“We are all different. We are all people. We are all the same” were the words that echoed all around Berlin last weekend as people gathered to dream about a world where human rights are placed above all.
Sadly, that world only exists in the mind of the few and it’s time to face the truth: the world we live in is a place where inequality is the norm and equality is rare to find.
In fact, most of us are still living with a mentality of tribalism that makes us see artificially made divisions where in fact, there shouldn’t be none.
Blacks, whites, homosexuals, heterosexuals, men, women…aren’t we all the same?
Why should we allow our societies to give different rights and privileges to one group over the other?
Travel opened my eyes to an invisible war that is fought today in many different battlefronts: the war against inequality.
The war against inequality and its different battlefronts
The war against inequality has many different battlefronts, all of them the result of patriarchal societies being unable to adapt to the globalised world of universal human rights.
Ever since the dawn of men there has been inequality of opportunities within all societies since at the moment of birth, societies have imposed gender roles to its inhabitants and generally, women were placed below men in the social ladder.
As the world became more globalised and societies evolved, the list of inequalities grew bigger and bigger up to a point where people had less opportunities because of things outside of their control such as their skin colour and their sexual preferences.
Today, even though Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand are making progress towards all-inclusive societies, the war against inequality is still killing many innocent victims in Africa and the Middle-East.
Did you know that homosexuals acts are punished by death in 5 countries (Mauritania, Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen) while there are 79 countries in the world where homosexual acts are illegal?
What does some of these countries have in common? Intolerant beliefs dictated by holy doctrine instead of reason.
After all, what better justification to oppress people’s universal rights than to use the excuse that it is the will of the gods?
Is religion really the cause for inequality?
No, of course not. Religion is not the problem and blaming religion is basically taking away all responsibility from the followers who actually commit acts of inhumanity.
To blame Christianity for the murders committed by the Holy Inquisition is the equivalent of blaming Communism for the murders committed by the Soviet Union.
Yes, Christianity and Communism (plus Islam, Judaism, Capitalism, Anarchism…) are all ideologies with good and bad values but it is up to the people to put said values to practice on a day by day basis.
If you read the Bible, the Talmud or the Quran you will find many verses with good values for the betterment of humankind as a whole…but you will also find some of the most intolerant and hate-filled verses ever that promote active discrimination against those who are different.
Imagine for a second that religion is a person, let’s call him Uncle Phil. Uncle Phil is a loving family man that gives money to charity, follows the law and raises his children with love…at the same time that he calls for the eternal punishment for homosexuals, keeps telling his wife to go back to the kitchen and tells his daughter that he will murder her if she brings shame to the family.
Does his good values wash away his bad ones? Can we cherry-pick his good values apart from his bad ones and still say that we’re believers of Uncle Phil’s teachings? Is Uncle Phil a person that teaches of love or a person of that teaches hate? Is he both?
Why should anyone ever want to follow the teachings of Uncle Phil in the first place?
Why cannot we all make mind our own business? Why?
If two consenting adults want to formalise their relationship and get married…does it really matters if both are men? If two responsible and loving adults want to adopt a baby… does it really matters if both are men?
In the end, it is important to understand that the war against inequality is NOT about giving new rights to those who are different. The war against inequality is all about RECOGNISING the rights that those who are different currently have despite Governments’ efforts to deny their existence.
And yet…you cannot demand equality for one group and deny the very same equality to others.
Pinkwashing and the need for an unified movement
At the LGBT parade in Berlin there was a group of young people advocating for Israel’s removal from the Palestine Territories (occupied ever since the war of 1967) since they feel that the Israel Government is being unequal in their treatment of the Palestine population that live in the West Bank (more on that on a future article at Journey Wonders).
The irony of their presence in a LGBT parade wasn’t lost to the public since the interim government of the Gaza strip currently sanctions homosexual acts with 10 years imprisonment while the interim government of the West Bank doesn’t recognises same-sex unions.
However, the protestors did raise a good point which is the existence of “Pinkwashing”, defined as the alleged practice of world-Governments to prioritise their support for LGBT rights in order to silence critics of other forms of discrimination that in their opinion are more important.
Today, it is quite sad to realise that some oppressed minorities demand for equality at the same time that they are actively discriminating and denying the very same equality to other groups of people.
How can a black person demand equality when he is currently being an homophobe against homosexuals? How can an homosexual demand equality when is currently advocating for women to have a lower salary than men? How can a woman demand equality when she is currently being a racist against black people?
They don’t get it. They are in the same war. They are all allies…or at least they should be. People need to be united and understand that they are all fighting the war against inequality in different battlefronts and that unity will bring their movement forwards.
I dream of an unified world where divides stop existing as we come together as one. Our world is changing as we speak.
And it’s up to you to do the same too.
Can travel help the world in the war against inequality?
The more we travel, the more we learn about the world and I strongly believe that there is a strong cause-relation effect when it comes to travel and tolerance since the world’s most intolerant and unequal countries are the ones in the developing world and it’s normal to imagine that their citizens don’t know the world that exists beyond their own borders.
Travel can help people to be more tolerant. Travel can help people to gain a better understanding of the way humanity works. Travel can help people to grow as citizens of the world and forget the tribalistic divides that their society has taught them. Travel can help people to make a better world.
No, I’m not asking you to like every single person or minority group in the world. And yes, it is your total right to be a bigot and be disgusted by the mere presence of homosexuals, blacks, women, whatever. Sometimes you cannot help it, it’s just the way you were raised and I don’t blame you because of it.
However, be aware that it is your CHOICE to discriminate or not against them. It is your CHOICE to deny them the same treatment than you give to others. It is your CHOICE to accept them for who they are.
“But why do you care, Raphael? You’re a man. You’re straight. More importantly, you’re handsome. Why would you care for those that are different?” people have asked me in the last couple of years.
Well, you don’t need to be a woman to fight for their universal human rights. You don’t to be black to fight for their universal human rights. You don’t need to be homosexual to fight for their universal human rights…
All you need to be is to be human. Are you?
Things you should know before visiting the Berlin Pride Parade
Each June ever since 1979, Berlin commemorates the Christopher Street Day (CSD) in memory of the Stonewall Riots of 1967 that took place in Christopher Street in which homosexuals took a stand against police assaults.
Other than the main CSD Pride, there’s also two other LGBT aimed activities in the same month such as the Kreuzberg Pride and the Gay Night at the Zoo (no, it’s not what you think!).
Berlin is a city filled with tolerance and acceptance which is why it’s such a popular city amongst LGBT Tourists. The Tourism Industry in the city is very well-aware of this and that’s why you’ll see many cool initiatives, such as the Pink Pillow, aimed at making sure that every single visitor has an amazing time during their visit to Berlin. You can read my travel guide to Berlin here.
Until next time, my friends!