Sunday, February 26, 2017

What Divides Humanity?

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What Divides Humanity?
Multiple Responses
1.
What is it that divides us ?
by Prof. P. Krishna
Rector, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi 221001, India
(Based on a talk delivered at the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden, The Netherlands, on 23rd July, 1992.)


One of the major concerns of Mrs. Annie Besant, as a theosophist, was the creation of a universal brotherhood of man. She tried all through her life to teach that all life is sacred, that all human beings are equal, that different religions are merely different approaches to the same truth, that all life and the entire environment around the earth constitute one whole of which man is an intrinsic part. The greatest threat to the creation of one-world and a universal brotherhood of man is his tendency to identify himself with those who appear to be similar to him. This has divided mankind into a large number of groups - religious groups, national groups, ethnic groups, linguistic groups, caste groups, professional groups, political and ideological groups and family groups - all of which from time to time become antagonistic to other groups when their self-interest needs to be protected. The desire of an individual to belong to a group is born out of a sense of security he feels in belonging to it. Yet, it is obvious, that this very division into groups has created the greatest insecurity for all human beings on this earth, through war, riots, infighting and competition.

In spite of all the ideals of unity, one world and universal brotherhood, it is clear that mankind is moving in the opposite direction. One has witnessed in recent years the splitting up of countries like USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia with much associated violence and cruelty. In India too there are similar separatist tendencies in Kashmir, in Punjab, in Assam, and the Hindu-Muslim division is growing more acute day by day. We must therefore ask ourselves, why after thousands of years of so called culture and civilization, mankind is still so brutal, so badly divided ? What is it that divides us ?

If one examines that seriously, one finds that the division among people arises from a feeling that `we' are separate from `them', which in turn arises from the feeling of being different. But are we really different or do we only imagine that we are different ? I would like to examine that very scientifically, objectively and precisely, without taking sides or becoming emotional about either religion or culture.

Let us look at human beings who appear to be divided - we could take Hindus and Muslims or Arabs and Jews or any other set of people - and ask ourselves whether their differences are real or imaginary. By imaginary I mean something which is not factually existing but has been simply constructed by the mind in imagination. A human being has a body and a consciousness. So, are we really different in our bodies and are we very different in our consciousness ? If we go to a doctor or a biologist and ask him whether there are significant differences in the body, he will tell us that they are very superficial - the colour of the skin may be different, the colour of the hair may be different, but inside the skin the blood is the same, the heart, the liver, the lungs, everything is the same. You can exchange the blood of one person with that of another person from any nation, any religion, anywhere. Therefore, obviously, in our bodies we are really not different except in the outer shape and features.

Next, let us consider whether we are really different from each other in our consciousness or we merely differ in our ideas, which are things which we acquire from our particular culture, and therefore, feel we are different from each other when in reality we may not be. If you strip a human being of all his possessions, his house, his property, his knowledge and look at the content of his consciousness, is he really very different from another human being? Is the consciousness very different for the poor man and the rich man, for the Hindu, the Muslim or the Jew, for the American or the Indian ? I am referring to what we really are, not our collections, not what we have accumulated. If we look beyond the superficial we find that every human being has the same feelings - the sense of fear, the sense of insecurity, the sense of loneliness, the desire to succeed in life, to be somebody. Every human being has attachments and consequent suffering when that attachment is broken. Every human being has desires and is struggling to fulfill them or cope with them. In what way do we really differ ? One man may desire this, another man may desire that. One human being may worship in one way, the other human being may worship in a different way, but the need to worship, the psychological needs of the human being, the instincts, are all the same. So I question whether we are really different or we just imagine that we are different ? Is it not like one wave on the surface of the ocean telling another wave, "I am different from you" because it is a little different in height, in shape, in the speed with which it is moving ? If it were aware of the depth of that ocean, it would see that these differences are trivial, are not of any great significance. So it seems to me that because we have given tremendous importance to the superficial therefore, we feel and think we are very different from each other. If we were aware of the depths of our consciousness, of what we are as human beings, not just the superficial ideas and knowledge in the conscious mind, but the whole of our being, it would be exactly like the wave in an ocean. It is made up of water, it has seven miles depth of ocean, in common with all other waves, but it feels different just because on the surface it is a little different.

So it seems to me that whenever we see division, whenever we feel division in ourselves, we must examine whether that difference is not arising because one is looking at the whole thing in a very fragmentary, narrow, limited or superficial manner. The division between science and religion also arises because we give to these two quests rather narrow meanings. In actual fact science is man's quest for the discovery of the order which manifests itself in the external world of matter and energy and the religious quest is humanity's quest for the discovery of order in the inner world of our consciousness. There is really no division or antagonism between them. So is it everywhere else. Facts and reality do not divide, but illusions which our mind builds up around them divide. Division is created by our own mind because it does not see things factually, it has conjectures about it, it has opinions about it, it has a whole lot of prejudices, predilections associated with what it observes. What they do in society to overcome this is to create a new illusion in order to unite people. You find that if in India the internal situation is bad and people are fighting with each other and are divided, one way of uniting them is to talk about nationalism and to say that Pakistan is our greatest enemy and then out of that common hatred the people feel united; but among themselves they are divided on the basis of caste, on the basis of religion, on the basis of all kinds of superficial differences to which they have given tremendous importance. When you have all these divisions you need another illusion to bring you together and then we say that is unity, that is integration. It is only another illusion. Temporarily it may excite you into unity but that is not real unity.

If one were to look at life and have a deep understanding of life and of oneself, then there is no division because the facts don't divide. The fact that I go to a temple and you go to a synagogue or a church doesn't divide. It just says that this man goes to this building and the other goes elsewhere. This man kneels, that man stands. This man takes out his shoes, that man does it with shoes on. Does that divide ? It doesn't. So facts don't divide and if there is really no division, there is no need for integration. You want to integrate that which is divided. But we must first examine whether the division is a fact or that division itself is an illusion. If that division is out of illusion, when that illusion ends the division will end. Then there is no need for integration because there is no division. So it becomes a wrong question how to integrate the peoples of Russia. They are not divided. They think they are divided which is out of ignorance. That ignorance has to be dispelled so that we see the fact that we are not divided. It is a fallacy to think that we need to do propaganda to unite.

If you end all propaganda and all illusion, then there is no division. Therefore the most important thing, which the sages have pointed out but we need to realize it for ourselves, is to dispel ignorance and get out of a superficial view of each other and of life. At present, unfortunately, we are being educated into our prejudices. I am using the word "Education" not only in the sense of what we do in school, but also all the other influences in the bringing up of a child in society, which includes the influence of family, of television, etc. We get educated into our prejudices and these are perpetuated by the tremendous inertia in human society. Take the example of casteism in India. It started 5000 or more years back. The society was then divided into four different castes. We do not quite know why they did it, what was their intention at that time. What we know is what we see now. The government is trying to eliminate castes, it says all people have equal opportunity, it says professions are not to go along caste lines, that there will be no discrimination. That is the law, but still it goes on because in each family the child grows up seeing discrimination going on around him. The lower caste man is treated in a particular way, you don't sit and eat food with him etc. and he sees this discrimination going on. He sees that people don't marry outside their caste and that is what he picks up from the environment.

You may say anything in the classroom but what he is seeing in the society has a much greater influence on his mind, so he grows up with it and acquires that prejudice without being aware that it is a prejudice. To him that is a fact, that is a reality. I just took that as an example. You can see that it is the same in every society, in every place. That is why Americans continue to be Americans and Indians continue to be Indians and Christians continue to be Christians. We create the younger generation in our own image. There may be a little change in ideas here and there but by and large you will see that the younger generation is created in the image of the older generation which means we successfully transmit all our prejudices to our children ! We are not aware of it. We think we love them and we are doing good to them - but we need to examine that, we need to question that. That is what questioning means - not to accept anything that we have assumed till now unquestioningly. Our intention may be good but if education is based on ignorance it is false and we may really be damaging our children when we are educating them as we consider proper. In this world, if the Jews are going to leave behind children who are Jews, and the Arabs are going to produce children who are Arabs, and the Hindus leave behind Hindus, the old people all die but the young people grow up in the image of the old people, how will the world change ? The same divisions will continue because the prejudice continues from the older generation to the newer generation through a lack of awareness. One is not aware that it is prejudice.

So, if I see that, then I don't want to pass on my prejudices to my children, I don't want to create them in my own image. But this is difficult because we don't know what else to create them into. What shall we teach them if we don't teach them what we have learnt ? So that is a problem. Can we make them aware of this problem ? While we educate them, while we pass on to them our traditions, which we have learnt in our family and not discarded after our questioning, can we at the same time encourage them to question it ? Ask them not to conform but to inquire, to find out whether that is the right way, whether that is true, not accept it blindly. I don't see any other way in which mankind can change in a fundamental sense. It may change politically or economically and it has, but that is all so trivial. Instead of three countries you may become ten countries, but it will not end the divisions because the division arises from the mind when the mind is filled with ignorance. Until that ignorance is dispelled it lives with illusions and the illusions will divide. So fundamentally that is the source of division. It may manifest itself in a more cruel way somewhere and in a less cruel way somewhere else, but the division between countries arises out of this, the division between a man and his wife in the family also arises out of this.

At present we are not only passing on our prejudices but we are creating groups around a common prejudice. As a Hindu I may have a certain notion of God which I acquired during my childhood but that notion about God may be an illusion. Around that illusion we collect a whole lot of people who all believe in the same illusion. Similarly there is another group around another illusion. Then this group feels separate from that group. The whole division is based on illusion. Then we talk about tolerance. You must respect the other fellow for his illusion, his illusions are not inferior to your illusions and so on ! Tolerance means I don't love you, but I will put up with you, and we consider it a virtue because we are not willing to give up our illusions. We are not willing to live with facts and end division because we are attached to our illusions.

So can we refuse to belong to any group around any illusion ? You will ask me, whether as theosophists, we are not also a group ? What is the difference ? If we consider theosophy to be a number of answers, conclusions, to which we all agree to hold, then we do indeed create a new group, a new religion, and therefore a new division in mankind. But if we look upon Theosophy not as a body of answers or as instructions to be obeyed, but as an approach to life, an approach which says I want to find out was is true, I want to find out what is right, I want to look at things not fragmentarily, but holistically, then we are all students of life and that is not a group which divides. We do not have the answers, therefore there is nothing to propagate. One is only pointing out that that is the right way to approach life, to approach a problem or an issue like a student and such an approach is central to theosophy. Because how does one know the answers ? The Christians have their own answers, the Jews have their own answers, somebody else has his own answers and they all fight over the answers. Therefore let us not give importance to answers but to questions. It is not important to live with conclusions, it is important to live with inquiry, with a deep sense of mystery, with the humility which comes from knowing that we do not know. We must accept that we do not know and have the willingness to inquire.

Is it at all necessary to arrive at an answer ? Is it not enough to live with an inquiring mind right through life ? Does inquiry have to end in a conclusion or is it possible to love inquiry itself and therefore live with inquiry ? Why does one need a conclusion ? We must ask ourselves why we always want an answer. Is that also something that we have been conditioned into ? Then the enquiry becomes a process of fulfillment of the desire to get the answer. One may call it a noble desire but it is also a desire and it is seeking fulfillment in an answer. And how will you ever know that your have arrived ? When we feel that, it may just be that we are satisfied with a particular prejudice since we don't know whether it is really true. So often things have appeared to be true when they are not true. I am sure all of us, if we look back, will find that our ideas have changed, our opinions have changed, so how can we be sure they will not change again ? So why should I be attached to my particular opinions now and of what value is that opinion ?

This does not mean that we must not have opinions, one is not saying that. But opinions are not important things, only facts are important. Therefore let us keep looking for facts and doubting all opinions, holding them tentatively, knowing that they may be born of ignorance, knowing also that if we get attached to our opinions, our particular answers or conclusions, our beliefs, we create a new division in the world. Universal brotherhood of man is not an ideal, a motto, but a fact. Not that as theosophists, we believe in universal brotherhood of man. The other man is your brother. Indeed Krishnamurti went a step further. He said the other man is yourself. Not your brother, but yourself. Because, what is the difference ? To the extent one wave of the ocean is different from another wave of the ocean, to that extent we are different from each other. The Buddha expressed it with another analogy. He said one human being differs from another only as much as one candle differs from another candle and that difference is not more than the difference between what that candle is now and what it was earlier. Because, with time and experience my ideas keep changing, my conditioning is changing and the difference between me and you is also just a difference in conditioning and your conditioning is also changing.

So, if as an individual, knowing that I am a part of this whole mysterious phenomenon of life, knowing that I have come into this world not by choice, been bestowed with these faculties which the human mind possesses, the question arises: what is the right use of these faculties ? Are we making the right use of these faculties ? If we use these faculties to understand our relationship to the whole world to our fellow man, to understand who we are, what our life is, then life is an exploration for which we use these faculties. Take one of the faculties - take thought. What is the right use of thought ? I can use thought as a help in exploration. The entire intellectual exploration is all based on thought. It is limited because it functions within the field of the known. Reason has its limitations, thought has its limitation; but it also has a field within which it can explore. Someone gave the analogy that thought is like the pole of the pole-vaulter. In the game of pole vaulting a man uses the pole to push himself up in order to climb and go over the bar. Reason and thought are like that, like the pole. At the right moment you must be willing to leave the pole if you want to cross over to the other side. It won't take you all the way. But it is a faculty, a very important faculty, which will take you in your enquiry up to a point. You have to find out what that point is at which you must leave that pole. But we are not using thought in that way. We are not using it for exploration. We first choose from the answers that are offered, then align ourselves with one particular answer, group around it and then use thought like a lawyer, defending the particular view which we have chosen. Please see the truth of this. This is what is creating division in the world - the wrong use of thought.

We must ask ourselves whether that is the true function of thought. Is the purpose of the faculty to think, to reason, to imagine, to build walls around oneself ? Should I first say that I am a Hindu, I believe in these things, and then use thought to propagate what I believe in or should thought be used to inquire into what is true ? Which way are we going to use thought ? Are we going to posit what is true as the unknown and inquire into it or are we going to align ourselves with some view which, someone, great or small, says is true. If I join a particular group and do propaganda for what they maintain is the truth, then what I spread is illusion. What I spread is only the word because I have not got the truth, I have not inquired and found out if it is true. If you have simply assumed it then all your abilities and all your intelligence is being used like that of a lawyer. This is precisely what a lawyer does and he accepts money for it. The payment that we receive is the illusory security of that group -- illusory because such group formation has created the greatest insecurity in the world. The lawyer says I will argue only for my client, my client is right because he paid me the money ! He is not using the intelligence to find out who committed the crime, who was wrong. He only use his intelligence to argue that his client was correct. We do a similar thing when we invest our happiness in a particular group, around one particular belief, and that creates division.

So, it is our illusions, our ignorance that divides us. In actual fact there is no division and if we dispel our ignorance there is no need to integrate or to propagate universal brotherhood.

2.
What divides more people : gender, intelligence, religion or social class ?
This is one of my favourite discussion topic. :)

In your opinion and experience, which of the following factors make it the more difficult for two individuals (e.g. a couple) to understand each other or live together ?

1) Gender : the Mars and Venus polarisation; add to this the gays and bisexuals, and things get even more complicated.

2) Intelligence and knowledge : intelligence is mostly innate, while knowledge is entirely acquired, through education, self-learning and experiences.

3) Religion and (metaphysical) beliefs : a radical Muslim will have a hard time living with a convinced Atheist (and vice versa). Christians of different denomination (e.g. Catholic vs Baptist) and different strength of beliefs will also probably be in an antagonistic position.

4) Social class : values, tastes, manners, lifestyle, living standards...


Let's say that personality is defined by the combination of all the above, so please do not answer "personality".

My views :
In my experience, gender has been the least dividing of the 4 factors. Maybe that is because I belong to minority groups in the other three. In fact I have often had a better contact and more interesting discussion with women than with men. I think that (some) women have an appeasing effect on me, which makes it easier to be in their presence. When I get annoyed by women, it is usually for another reason than "gender conflict" - except if rationality is part of the gender division, but I doubt so as their are many rational women too (at least in some cultures and social groups).

Intelligence and knowledge is often the cause of conflict between me and others, so I try to socialise with people similar to me, or avoid "serious discussions" with people who have had too difficult to understand me in the past. Let's say that I have more or less managed to cope with this difference. For most people (the "mainstream", as I see it) it isn't even an issue.

Social classes are part and parcel of any civilised and specialised society. Only animals and tribal people (or our prehistoric ancestors) do not have to care about interpersonal differences in knowledge/education and social class. Let me emphasise the difference between "social class" and "social status". One's social status depends on one"s achievements or personal dominance over the others, and exists also among social animals (e.g. wolves, apes) and tribal people. Social class is the milieu into which we are born and raised, and which will influence our values, tastes, manners and lifestyle during all our life, whatever our socio-economic success.

Personally I think that social class is a much more important factor in the way people socialise than gender, intelligence or knowledge.

Religion wouldn't be a problem if nobody had one, which contrarily to the other 3 factors is possible. It also wouldn't matter so much if all religions were non-exclusive polytheisms. For instance, Buddhism and Jainism were absorbed by Hinduism. The Romans absorbed the deities of the conquered lands (e.g. the Egyptian and Celtic ones). Religion started to divide people when they became exclusive and intolerant of other beliefs. This is only true of a few religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that have since "killed" most of the other religions in the world, and continue to do all they can to dominate the world. Naturally two radical individuals from two such religions will never be able to live together. It is as hard for one radical monotheist to live with a polytheist or a non religious person (even from the same religious background !)

So for me, religion is by far the most dividing factor. Were I not already married, I would never ever consider dating someone with strong and exclusive religious beliefs. I am a convinced Atheist, but I do not look for other convinced Atheists. I am comfortable with most Agnostics (e.g. non-practising Christians who have doubts about religion), Deists (those who believe in god, even strongly, but do not follow any organised religion), or with non radical Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, etc. In a secular society where most people are not very religious (e.g. Europe, China, Japan), religion is hardly an issue. But I couldn't live (even for a short time) in a very religious society (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Iran, some US states...).


Conclusion : Within a non-religious society, the most dividing factor between people, and the most important in finding friends or a spouse is definitely social class. But religion remains potentially the most prohibiting factor of all. So my ranking from the most to the least is :

- religion
- social class
- intelligence & knowledge
- gender

Additional comment on gender differences & divorce

Hopefully gender is not such a strong factor, otherwise men and women wouldn't live together anymore. I believe that a majority of divorces nowadays are not caused by gender differences, but by passionate love marriages where "love" dies after a few years (for biochemical reasons), or just marriages across social classes, which are usually destined to fail. The increase in divorces has resulted from major changes in society :

1) allowing love marriages, regardless of the spouse's family background
2) a rise in individualism; young people don't mind to live by themselves anymore, and even want to leave the parental home as soon as possible, but also have more difficulty living with someone else, whoever it is.
3) a rise in the level of what is considered "acceptable" promiscuity (buffered by AIDS since the early 1980's)
4) decrease in the social and/or religious taboo about divorce

Gender differences have always existed. Men and women have lived together for centuries despite these differences. Now that women are increasingly behaving like men (taking men's jobs, doing men's sports, talking like men, cutting their hair...), and vice-versa (men doing more housework, taking care of the children, taking paternal leave when a baby is born, wearing perfume and caring about fashion...), we could think that in fact gender differences are decreasing, and fast !

“My opinion is, social class is the no.1 factor out of all. From what i experience is, humans have always been materialistic but this world (including the people around me) is just becoming more and more. I have a friend and he knows this girl who has great taste in fashion and in lifestyle etc will not make friends with those who don't have the same high class taste as her, regardless if they all share the same interests or not. More and more people of today's young generation are becoming materialistic. Besides, social caste still exists in India and in some parts of the world too and has always have been throughout history. It is part of human nature.

Religion is the 2nd factor, although we're having divisions among Christians, radical Muslims and other religious groups but these divisions are often caused by political issues rather than their religious beliefs.

So I say:

1. Social class
2. Religion
3. Intelligence
4. Gender”

“I would say first the social class or the social status. I find it difficult to socialize with people with social class by far lower than mine, every behavior they possessed is difficult for me to accept.

Anyway people with much lower income or status than what my husband or my family have would be extremely Jealous of us. My husband is a CEO, now he doesn't mind making friends with people with lower jobs. He actually have a few friends who are laborers, but their wives are so jealous that their men are incapable of making as much money or achieve status as he can. There are times he went to their place and he was wearing a luxurious watch and the wives instantly make remarks about it and acted very jealous.

Then I would say it is the intelligence. I would die if I have to deal with a bunch of people who doesn’t understand common sense because their intelligence level is obviously lower than mine, I would feel very irritated and annoyed.

I will give you an example:
I went back to Malaysia to visit my parents for vacation. For those of you who don’t know Malaysia is a segregated society. Due to the reason that my husband wanted an adventurous type of tour, we went to see some indigenous tribe in Sarawak, which was very interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, they are easy going people and the trip was nice but I wouldn’t socialize with these people on a daily basis because we are too different, in terms of standards and in terms of intelligence.

During the tour, our tour guide asked me where I was from; I told him I was born in Kuching, Sarawak. And my husband told him my father was the one who booked the tour and he's a doctor in Kuching, and he told him my dad's name. Then the tour guides was balled over because he knew who my father was. Then he told another tour guide who was a kind of indigenous tribal ethnic person of Malaysia, I am not sure which one. I thought he was Malay but he wasn’t as he was a Christian. So he must be one of the minority tribal ethnic groups in Malaysia, like Iban, Orang Ulu, Bidayu...etc. He was definitely not Indian or Chinese.

Anyway the Chinese in Malaysia is the same people as the Hongkese or Taiwanese, as their ancestors come from Southern China. Unless if they have been mixed with Malay, Indian, or indigenous tribes, then they are different. Otherwise we, Chinese from Malaysia are the same people as the Southern Chinese, genetically speaking and racially speaking, but not culturally speaking.

He was so stunned of what I said and said to me that he found Taiwanese or Hongkese did not look like the Chinese in Malaysia, and that they were not the same people.

I told him; If they don’t look alike, it is because of environmental reasons; Malaysia is located in the equator so averagely the Chinese living in this area are darker on average because of the sun. There are also accent differences and that the Chinese here are not very Chinese because they live in a multicultural society with Malays, Indians and other indigenous tribes but genetically they are the same as the other southern Chinese. Go see the babies, they look the same.

At this point I was simply getting mad, because he was so stupid that he was slapping his own face. Before hand he was explaining to the tourists that the Iban ( a minority tribe in Sarawak) people’s younger generations who went to school, unlike their previous generation that were illiterate. These younger generation became professionals and they no longer wanted to live in the jungle, they wanted to be modernized and they wanted to live in the city. And they did.

Why? because they want to live in a better environment.

People who live in the city look different from the people in the jungle. And people who live in a first word country look different from the people who live in developing country because of the environment. Go see an African person in Africa and compare to the blacks in the US, are they the same? Of course not, because of the environmental and educational influences.

The Chinese in Malaysia look different from the Taiwanese; Hongkese is because they live in Malaysia. It is the environment of Malaysia that makes them different from the other southern Chinese. Genetically they are still the same. He even thinks all the people who live in Malaysia are the same, racially.

Unbelievable!!! The Malays and the indigenous people are descendants of Polynesians where as Chinese are Mongoloid. If a white person is born in South Africa would his genetics be black because he’s born in Africa? No of course not unless she is the heir of black parents. There are Chinese born in England but if both the parents are Chinese the child would still be Chinese genetically speaking, even his nationality will be British and will speak perfect English.

Then he asked me how to move to foreign countries, I said "you have to be qualified and your qualifications need to be very up to standards, you need money or skills developed countries want, go read immi.gov.au. Unless you are a refugee but you need to prove that, they will make investigations. "

I cannot believe there are people in the world who never heard of immigration. He also thinks the Chinese communities are the original inhabitants of Malaysia, this is so laughable. The Chinese immigrated to Malaysia mainly due to the political trouble of China during the Second World War. There are some who immigrated before the Second World War, I believed they were tradesmen and decided to stay in South East Asia.

By the end of our conversation I don’t think he understands what I am trying to tell him at all, *sigh*, luckily I don’t have to listen to this all day long. This is one of the reasons why Chinese are segregated from other ethnic groups in Malaysia, because of our standards, intelligence, culture, religion and... Basically we are just too different from them.

Thirdly I would say Religion, I am originally from Malaysia, but I have lived in western developed countries for so long I don't think I am the same as the people who still live there, Chinese overthere included, but I only socialised with Chinese in Malaysia that I like, not others from Malaysia.

This time when I go back to Malaysia, once again I encountered many different people with different religions, and their religions don’t really bother me as long as they don't start irritating me to join their religion that I don't want. The Malays are not as pious as the Arabs in the Middle East.
You know they say they will boyscott Danish beer, they didn't it's all over the place served in restaurants in Kuching, Malaysia. Malaysia is still a moderate Muslim country and the ethnic minorities are not Muslims and definitely allow to practice their religions. However being Muslim in Malaysia does give advantages in University spaces and many other things. But even with that Chinese from Malaysia choose to save money and go overseas, rather than turn Muslim.

Due to this reason not all Chinese born or from Malaysia speak Malay, but the tour guide will tell you otherwise. My husband who knows the truth was laughing about that when the tour guide lie right to his face.

Lastly gender, I don't remember being irritated or aggravated by people due to their gender. I generally find with western guys I mean white people are easier to be friends with than girls, as for East Asians I tend to have more friends that are girls than guys.”

“What divides people more? I don’t know if I can rate what divides people the most, because at times religion, gender, social class, and intellect can overlap each other. But I’ll try.

And thanks for pointing out the difference between social class and social status, I think a lot of people get the two mixed up.

Religion: Religion is a huge factor of dividing people. But I think it depends on what religion it is. It seems that the religions that descended from Abraham (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) are radical in nature. I can deal with Buddhism, since it doesn’t seem so radical. And certain sects and denominations can cause people within a religion to become divided. For instance, Catholics and Protestants are divided in a lot of ways. I think the same could be said for the Sunni and Shi’a.

Social Class: Probably doesn’t really have to divide people, but it does. People with a certain social standing are more likely to have the same political beliefs that fits into their social group. I believe that social class can be an exclusionary device. For one, there are clubs that are specifically for wealthy people.

Intelligence and knowledge I don’t think really divides people all that much.

Gender: It doesn’t really divide people. But the reason why gender differences exist in the first place is because men and women are socially trained to behave in the way that is supposedly suited for our sex. I guess since women can give birth to children we’re just socially trained to be the caretakers and nurturers. Or at least in a sociological sense this is true. But gender doesn’t really seem to divide people.
Oh and what about race, ethnicity or nationality? That can divide people as well.”

“What an interesting topic! :) *steps in with 2 feet*

OK...

Intelligence and knowledge
I think this can be a great dividing factor - but it doesn't have to be. It depends quite a lot on the people involved - since Mac is talking about a one-on-one relationship such as a couple or perhaps best mates, something like that. I'll expand... (if I can! ^^)... oh, and warning, probably I'm going to use examples too much from my own experiences... (I realise you can't always generalise from that...)

I think that it's important in this case to separate 'intelligence' (innate) from 'knowledge' (acquired). Someone who has not had a good education, perhaps who has no qualifications and hardly attended at school, can be an 'intelligent' person. I know quite a number of people like that. I also know intelligent people who do have a lot of knowledge and who have a good education. I find that the people who are intelligent and knowledgeable, can usually get along pretty well with those who are intelligent but don't have very much knowledge. The reason? It doesn't take a genius to see it! An intelligent person, regardless of their level of knowledge, can more easily understand what's being said to them. The things that they don't know, can be explained to them, and they can grasp them. Of course, that does take a little more effort on the part of the person with the knowledge. But, they will be... how to say it?... "someone to have an intelligent conversation with" (!!!). I don't really know who to describe it, but an 'intelligent' person can use their brain, even without specific knowledge, and is also quicker to learn and grasp ideas.

For example, there's this guy who is really uneducated, I mean, not having qualifications and didn't really attend school, he just left and got a job in a factory that didn't need qualifications. But that doesn't mean he is stupid. In fact, when I talk to him, I think to myself, "He's an intelligent man". Of course, that only means he's more intelligent than me! (That's not so difficult at all! ) But, I did go to university, so... well, I guess that means I have knowledge (even if not intelligence), anyway, so, supposing we are about equal on a level of intelligence, he doesn't have as much knowledge in the same areas as me, but we can get along just fine. I mean, I can see his brain is sharp even though he doesn't read and write too well.

I said that I think it depends on the people, as regards intelligence and knowledge. Because in a one-on-one relationship where there is unequal I&K, it falls on the person with the more I&K to 'concede' to the person who has not. For example, the person with more I&K sees other strong points in their friend. Additionally, people can have different levels of I&K in different areas, which confuses the issue! For instance, I have a good friend who is infuriatingly 'slow' in some things (leading some people to dismiss him as 'stupid' ¬__¬), but who is incredibly kind, loyal, and a total whiz at computers. His brain works differently to mine, but do I get fed up with him? Not at all! O_o But on the other hand, there are some very intelligent people who find him only tedious, and don't care about his other qualities.

Often I find that in a social situation I form a very quick bond with someone who thinks the same way I do, who has a similar level of intelligence to me, and who shares my 'areas of knowledge'... regardless of our social class, gender or religion. It's like we have some kind of shared understanding that cuts across these barriers.

In conclusion to that, I think that I&K (when put together! @_@) has the potential to be one of the most dividing factors between 2 individuals, but that depending on those individuals and their attitudes it could also not matter a damn.

Social class
I agree with what people have said, that social class is a very big dividing factor. I grew up being very unaware of social class or in the blissful feeling that it somehow didn't really matter any more, not 'these days'. But it does. I've learnt that, becoming more mature and meeting people from different classes. People from a different class I find harder to 'reach', mentally. Probably this is because class is something ingrained in you throughout your upbringing, so you aren't aware of what it is and how it affects your behaviour and thoughts until you're quite a bit older; probably in your teens, at least. So people grow up in their class, with the tendencies and habits resulting from it, and it becomes quite fixed (although not entirely). I find people from a different class to have a different outlook on life. Sometimes, an intelligent person from a different class (either above or below mine) can make a strong connection with me and class does not matter, because they are intelligent enough to break their thought patterns away, to be just 'themselves', to think as an individual (I can't think of a good way of expressing it without implying that most of the population are stereotyped clones of their class, which is of course not what I mean! ). And of course, some people can be highly intelligent and yet extraordinarily fixed in their social class and outlook (particularly when they are intelligent in one sphere, their job, for example a lawyer or a surgeon - not to say that specialists are more inclined to be like that, though!!!).

Religion
I put religion only 3rd on my list of 'what divides more people', and I did warn that I was thinking a lot from my own experience, which is limited. Because my cousin, who is a practicing Catholic, is married to a practicing Muslim, and they have a very happy and successful marriage and get along just fine. Naturally, this will bias my opinion, in the way of saying "I've seen it work". I know it isn't always so easy. Religion has caused some of the very biggest divides, wars etc., and some religions seem to be so incompatible... ... But as Christianity and Islam are seen as being really 'opposing forces', I wanted to put in my word that it doesn't have to be like that... Incidentally, some of the people I have felt the greatest understanding and friendship from in my life, are moderate Muslims (compared with me, who is Catholic); we share a lot of the similar outlook on things that are important to us, and feel a great sense of comradeship and mutual support. I feel culturally, mentally and emotionally closer to my Muslim friends than to those who are evangelical Christians.

I have to add, though, that I am referring to moderate Muslims and not violent extremists.

Gender
Gender I would put as number 4, the least dividing factor. As someone already pointed out, there are these days a lot less socially-dividing factors caused by gender. And mentally... Well, sure there are differences in the way the male and female brains work, if books are anything to go by , but I don't think it matters so very much. :) and of course, speaking of one-on-one relationship, what is more common than a male-female couple? seriously though, divorces and break-ups there are, but what about this great attraction for the opposite sex? It seems to me that would indicate it's an attractive factor rather than a dividing factor!

There is the different ways people's minds work... but although gender does have a role to play in that, I think it's largely more of an individual thing. I mean, you get feminine men and masculine women. Not everyone fits into the stereotypes of female/male. In fact, how many people actually do fit the stereotypes? Perhaps I'm biased, because my mind tends to work in rather a 'masculine' way (although not always!), but I don't find gender to be much of a 'dividing' factor in forming one-on-one friendships (and a positive help in finding partners! XD).

I do find that I've got a very high proportion of close male friends (who are not lovers or ex-s) compared with female friends, and I sometimes wonder whether that's because of my 'masculine' characteristics... perhaps blokes feel quite comfortable around me or something? @_@ also not being particularly attractive I don't put them on edge and make them feel like they need to impress me or something. ¬_¬ XD

Woah... I write too much... and I don't even know if that is clear at all. I'm not really so stupid, I'm just too lazy to go back and organise my post! (I know! Excuse! >_<)

Anyway, my order:
1. Intelligence & knowledge (either 1 or 4!!! @_@)
2. Social class
3. Religion
4. Gender”

3.
Which divides humanity more: race or religion?
Clearly, BOTH racial and religious discrimination divide humanity. I'm not saying nothing else does or that these two forms of discrimination are not related. I'm seeking discussion of either race, religion or both . . . not neither. Weigh the two options, choose one and explain why. There's no right or wrong answer . . . just opinions.

I got bored with the usual questions about religion. This question hasn't been covered before (that I can see). It has potential for some really thoughtful and interesting answers. This IS Quora, after all :-)

“Neither. What divides us is about biologically evolved tendency towards tribalism.  Take a group of kids from the same ethnicity and religion and they will divide themselves into us vs. them.   It's in our nature.  If it wasn't religion or race, it would be something else - like eye color or hair style.

Our challenge is to override our instincts to judge people as with us or against us and recognize that they are all us. We are all human.  And, ideally, that we embrace our humanism without denigrating the other life forms we share this planet with.  And ideally so that IF we are ever contacted by beings from other planets, that we don't transfer our us vs. them biologically evolved tendency onto them.”

“I would say religion there are so many different religions today. Even among christains there are divisions. We have so-called black and white churches. Within these churches you have some who are quick to judge others outside thier circle. We have so many fake preachers who are twisting scriptures to decieve people. Many people dont want religion because of the hypocrites in charge. They are robbing people for their money and people are stupid enough to give it all way.                        

Now we have the Muslims in the country who are being attacked because many people are motivated by FEAR of the terrorist. I think its wrong to judge a religion based off someones bad actions. But thats the way it is. There have been EVIL ACTS done in the name of jesus. The KKK use the Bible to futher their agenda ; hell even the slave masters were christains.”

“I'm a staunch atheist.  With that background information, I do not believe that religion divides people.  To the contrary, religion, in its most basic form, brings people together.  When we perceive that it is dividing people, what is actually happening is that someone, somewhere is using it as a tool to try to control people.  Therefore, I submit the proposition that all wars that have supposedly been fought because of religion have actually been fought for political purposes where religion has been used as a tool to turn the people of one side against the people of the other side.
Racial divisions are actually quite similar in nature even if they are more complex.  First of all, it's important to understand where racial division comes from.  Even though I don't think the word is perfect, its meaning is similar enough to use here:  Xenophobia.  People have a natural aversion to that which is unfamiliar.  Now xenophobia in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing.  It's a natural human emotion, and some people can use their feelings of xenophobia in order to help them to better understand other cultures.  However, just like religion, sometimes people use xenophobia as a tool to divide people.   Therefore, just like religions, I submit that xenophobia itself does not divide people.  People divide people and use xenophobia as a tool.
The third tool that hasn't been mentioned here that is used a lot by leaders seeking to divide people is patriotism/nationalism.  It's really the same process, though.  Therefore, in order to answer your question about what divides people more:  race or religion, my answer is neither.  Politics divide people.”

“Race.
Race by far predates religion, and in any case, race has proven to be far more robust and virulent than we originally had feared. Being of the same religion never stopped the English and French from clashing, nor did religion factor in the Carthaginian or Gallic Wars.
Is there anyone who can prove that the Goths invaded Rome in order to impose their religion on Romans?”

4.
Does religion divide the world?
80% say Yes, 20% say No

Yes. It unites those of the same nationality, but separates nation from nation
The majority of wars in history and present time are centered around religion. The Middle East (primarily Islam) hates the US (primarily Christian) and Israel (primarily Jewish) because the the book of Islam, the Quran tells them to. Christianity is a religion centered on love and service. Christians are tolerant of those they disagree with, while they may not always support them. They reach out to help all. On the contrary, intolerant religions, such as Islam, cause wars and cause unfair prejudices.”
Pride, hatred, misdirected jealousy, envy, scorn, lies, and deceitfulness divide the world not religion.
Only a FOOL dwells on FOOLISH things!!!! The foundation of the world itself doesn't divide people even though there are 7 continents with oceans stretching all across the Earth. PEOPLE DIVIDE THE WORLD with their own RATIONALE, CORRUPT POLITICS, RACISM, PORNOGRAPHY, ROAD RAGE, ONLINE TROLLING TO CAUSE DISHARMONY, SOCIETAL CLASSES, PREJUDICE, EVIL EMPLOYERS, AND UNETHICAL WHORE DRIVEN CORPORATIONS.

Religion does NOT divide people. Religion separates the GOOD from the EVIL. So don't EVER say anything bad about religion if you know what's best for you. OWNED.”
Yes religion definitely separates the world.
Religion doesn't separate the person literally but rather what it does is classifies the retards from the non-retards.
Human society is ever evolving, with science and technology guiding us forward while religion is dragging us backwards. Everything we see today is a result of science and religion contributed nothing. So why in anyone's right mind would they believe in God? The obvious answer to that is: Intelligence. If a person cannot recognize the obvious, even when it's right there in front of him/her and choose to believe in some fantasy with no factual basis we would agree to call these people retards. As for those whose logic is on the right track and understand the world around them through repeatedly challenging the facts are the ones who we'd call intelligent. So religion definitely divides the world, by intelligence.”
No
A proper interpretation of religion would bring everyone together. Religion does not create a rift between people, people create a rift between people by being unwilling to accept others for their different perceptions and ways of practicing their faith. Even Christians can't see that their many denominations all practice the same faith and love for Jesus Christ, but still they choose to be divided amongst themselves. This is not because of religion, this is because of the way human beings interpret religion and ignore all the religious texts that say love one another, don't kill, be compassionate, show mercy and practice humility.”
It makes people believe that some are better than others
- Religion influences children and their upbringing: children are indoctrinated in certain belief systems and are not given freedom to choose for themselves
- Religion gives alibis for killing others without remorse
- Religious beliefs lead this world to the state of overpopulation and bring our planet to the tipping point
- Religions "comfort" people offering lies
-Religion allows slavery, misogyny, homophobia etc.”
Of course not

Cuz basically yeah there would be no world or community without religion or faith. We would all be the same with no cultures and traditions so who ever says that religion divides us is wrong as religion really unites us!!! We would be sad and depresses without the fun of religion.”

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