“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Today, I plan on talking about a topic I have always pondered about. I read the news everyday on a diverse variety of stories ranging from politics to entertainment. As a diligent newsreader, there are intricacies that I can’t help but to notice. And unfortunately, these intricacies have sown a seed of cynicism within me. My allusion, explicitly stated, is to the double standards that is rampant among the majority population of the world when it comes to certain, sensitive issues. Of course, with every claim I make, it is incumbent upon me to attempt to prove the claim. So I will take this opportunity to present the hypocrisies prevalent in our society today through the means of presenting particular examples.
Here, I would like to compare scenarios related to annexation. For those who are unaware, back in 1981, Israel annexed Golan Heights (a region in neighbouring Syria) from Syria. Till this day in 2016, the United Nations has not recognized this act of annexation. And recently, the following was mentioned in a news article regarding this topic “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed the Golan Heights will forever stay in Israel’s hands, at the country’s first cabinet meeting held in the occupied territory. He called on the international community to recognize Israeli sovereignty…Israel annexed the region in 1981 but the move has not been internationally recognized. Syria demands its return.” (click here for the article) The intricacy to notice is that nowhere in the quote I pasted here nor in the article is there an opinionated response to this action that hints even the slightest of disapproval (and there shouldn’t be); but, notice how the international community has displayed inaction to this matter of clear dispute. This, I would say is unprecedented as the international community generally do respond quite spontaneously to similar “annexations” by other countries. For example, for those who are unaware, Russia is said to have annexed Crimea (a part of Ukraine) in 2014. Immediately after the “annexation”, the international community came together and responded with multiple sanctions. As I quote a news article from the same source/company as the previous one, please note the intricacies, “The EU and US introduced a first raft of sanctions against individual Russians and Ukrainians on Monday, a day after 97% of voters in a Crimean referendum opted to join Russia, according to Crimean authorities. The US ordered the freezing of assets and travel bans on 11 individuals, while the EU imposed the same sanctions on 21 people.” (click here for the article) Note the turnaround: 1 day. That’s all it took. And comparing it to the situation in Golan Heights, its been over 30 years and we have yet to see a strong opposition. And if we are comparing the outcomes, in order to maintain fairness, we must compare the act of annexation itself too. Russia claims this annexation to be an act of accession by Crimea to Russia due to the referendum held as mentioned in the article. Israel simply annexed it; no referendum to evaluate the opinion of the populace in Golan Heights was held to the best of my knowledge (and I did do research before I wrote on this topic). And yet, we see such stark differences in the reactions by the global community at large. In one situation, the “annexation” was a result of a referendum where a majority (official results = 97%) voted to join the Russian Federation is being viewed negatively whereas in a different situation of “annexation” (with no referendum) has received no response.
Some may argue this to be a systemic issue due to the inherent bias present in media corporations. After all, the media controls what is released through media. But, what about those reactions on a medium that are quite out of reach from media manipulation? Should we see unequivocally similar responses to similar situations on this platform free of media bias? From my experience, no. The example I will look at now will analyze the new Trending feature on Facebook that shows the popular topics being discussed on Facebook. Naturally, these discussions on Facebook are fuelled by regular folks like you and I. As I go through the Trending topics everyday, I have noticed how people react to similar situations differently. When the innocent civilians of European nations who were enjoying and living their lives are attacked; where parents lose their children and children lose their parents; where brothers lose their sisters and sisters lose their brothers; where friends lose each other; and, where young children experience horrors we cannot imagine; the world stands in solidarity with them. A hashtag in support of them is initiated. Because truly, their pain cannot be erased completely but it can certainly be alleviated with everyone’s support. And then, when a similar tragedy occurs in Turkey or Pakistan, the world remains silent; no solidarity is displayed; and, no hashtag is generated. What kind of society do we live in that selectively mourns to similar unfortunate events around the world? This is nothing short of, I must say, double standards.
These are just two examples of the many we can all think of under this paradigm of growing double standards that is seeping into our global society. At this point, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate our judgment. Then only will we be able to realize that our reactions have been clouded by biases. And once this understanding is established, we can progress to eliminate the biases by learning about different cultures and different people. And with knowledge, we will be able to remove biases, and make the objective decisions and judgments that we desperately require to achieve global harmony. Yes, I am implying that double standards are rooted from subjective decisions which ultimately arise from biased stereotypes. And that is why, I strongly suggest that we work to eliminate biases by increasing our knowledge about one another and with this approach, I hope I encourage everyone to participate in making this world a better place.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this poem by Robert Frost:
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.