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George Floyd: A call for love and unity

Muneeb Afzal

Humankind has made spectacular progress in the fields of science, technology, economy, and education. Bestowed with the most extraordinary powers on earth, we humans strive strove to break the geographical barriers of mountains and oceans, and achieved remarkable success in integrating the world. Instead of remaining as slaves of nature, we embarked on the path of innovation and through discoveries and inventions we not only unveiled its hidden secrets but also influenced it to make our lives comfortable and raise our standard of living.  We are now in the third decade of twenty first century and when we look around we are pretty confident that our phenomenal powers have made a lot of difference.

However, in contrast to this when we contemplate upon the relationship of human beings with one another, the scenario appears grim and gloomy. We have managed to break the natural barriers but at the same time we imprisoned ourselves by our self-made chains of casteism, racism and hate.  Our progress in education and enlightenment has not been able to sanctify our society which has been desecrated by the impurity of abhorrence. It is very unfortunate that on our external front we managed to disentangle the constraining forces of nature but internally, we created bear sized walls of casteism and racism between us. Not only have we been divided, but these socially constructed evils have been devastating and disastrous to humanity as a whole. The hate which is the defining feature of these evils has taken the precious lives of human beings in numbers and deprived millions of their basic human dignity. This poison of hate continues to cut the precious lives short and recently the death of George Floyd amply demonstrates the nature and intensity of this hate. The hate kneeled on his neck for nine minutes as he struggled and pleaded for air before he died and was laid to eternal rest. 

The point that needs to be stressed here is that the death of George Floyd must not be confined to the death of a particular person by a particular individual at a particular place. His death is not a loss to his family alone rather it is a blot to the humanity as a whole. His death is a serious setback to our claims of progress and development. His death reminds us that we may have integrated the boundaries but we have surely disintegrated the humanity by the sharp tools of racism and casteism. We may have a lot of educational qualification but we lack the sense to recognize that human being is a human being whatever may be his caste, colour, religion and sex. We have failed to understand that the colour of the skin and the caste one belongs to do not matter but what matters is the colour of our blood. The death of George Floyd has a lesson for humanity as a whole because some form of marginalization and estrangement exists in many societies of the world.

 Amid all such caliginous and gloomy atmosphere, there is something that ignites a real hope and brings some smile to our lips. The killing of George Floyd has sparked off the discontent in the form of protests in United States. Interestingly, the majority community has come to the forefront in the demand for justice. They transcended the barriers of colour differences to demonstrate that we humans are one and our minute differences are too little to upset our common agenda of prosperity and development for all. The fear of catching the virus could not stop them from coming out to show solidarity with the victim community. George Floyd is no more but his words “I cannot breathe” have been immortalized. These words have been made as the way of expressing the discontent and resisting the oppression.  Not only in USA but people in other parts of the world come out to voice their anger against racism. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently joined an anti-racism rally. All this is a symbol of love for humanity and a flourishing tribute to George Floyd.

I feel no hesitation to speak that our Kashmir is not totally free from our self-made evils. Here, we have an established hierarchal caste system. There are certain groups in our Kashmir who remain marginalized and our caste based approach deprives them of their basic human dignity to which everybody is entitled. The circumstances demand that we break the caste barriers in our society by initiating a social transformation. It will be a worthwhile step towards complete integration of our society. Both racism and casteism infuse hate in our hearts and both corrupt our conscience and therefore both need to be wiped out from our societies.

All this discussion revolves around the idea of embracing love and renunciation of hate. We humans inhibit the same mother other and face the same sunshine rains and clouds, our minor differences of colour and caste should not break this fabric of oneness. George Floyd reminds us that every human being has moral worth and the right to live a dignified life, how well we understand this will determine how well we understood his message.          

The author is a student at GDC Bijbehara in southern Kashmir. Feedback at [email protected]