Culture & Conversation

All of our Backyards

Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds is a song about mistrust, dysfunctional relationships, and the need to overcome issues in order to maintain the relationship. Unequivocally, the song recapitulates the vast majority of the world’s mindsets. On the other hand, the Quebec Soccer Federation’s (QSF) recent ban on Sikh children wearing turbans from playing soccer in the league because of a safety hazard is objectively illogical and, frankly, bullshit.

“Adapt, assimilate, act like us, or you don’t get to play” (Quebec’s Turban Ban Is About Xenophobia, Not Safety) best describes the QSF’s sensibilities behind their discriminatory move. It’s certainly sad the QSF views the cute brown-skinned children with colorful buns on their heads kicking soccer balls around as a threat to their personal identities. Why this fear of strangeness? More importantly, why the need to exclude others in order to define ourselves?

If anything, fear appears to be the potent force behind our identifications. We have absolutely no confirmation as to where we came from and where we’ll end up. Indeed, many of us have scientific and religious convictions as to our origins and mortality. Ultimately however, the lucidity behind suspicion and skepticism in all our unknowns  continuously crafts our numerous identities. If our identities are merely smoke and mirrors, how genuine are they?

For geneticists, racial identities are too arbitrary. If we all literally share the same great-grandmother, a woman who had lived in Africa some 200,000 years ago, where do we draw the line? Our differences in various physical attributes are simply a result of different climatic changes, from the time we left Africa some 70,000 years ago. Some of us got darker while others got lighter. Deal with it.

In today’s context, “genetic differences between individuals within a population are generally greater than the differences between populations.” – David Speakman.

An ethnic cultural identity surely must have more merit. Regrettably, the catch-22 of this involves one’s cultural identity greatly influencing ones perceptions. Moreover, that sense of community often translates into diminished acceptance for someone different, and thus hierarchies and inequalities.

“The white man is mad. They think with their heads, we think from here,” said the Pueblo Indian, pointing at his heart. – Carl Jung, from Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

Jung’s discussions with the Pueblo Indians led him to better understand what constitutes genuine identity. If we base our identities simply on what is known to us, our perceptions and labels will result in a false sense of identity, as was cautioned by Buddha. Nietzsche also saw how imperative it was to find one’s true self, writing, “you must remove yourself from society and from the experiences that could mold your identity…you could be lonely, but no price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Paradoxically, identities are now commonly crafted on everything the intellectuals of the past cautioned against. Much of our thoughts are consumed with how we are perceived by others. In return, we follow trends and tendencies as a means of self-expression, unknowing that mimicking others is the furthest thing possible to individuality and our true self. Our conscious perceptions of others have trapped us, limiting our freedoms. Its no wonder why we are so suspicious, without truly knowing ourselves, our lives are but that of an illusion.

Fortunately, in recent news, the QSA has been red-carded by the Canadian Soccer Association over the turban ban. The solution to lift the ban, allowing for the nearly two hundred Sikh children with turbans to play in the soccer league and prevent such a re-occurrence is simple. If you identify as a Sikh and react more strongly to this act of intolerance over others, you are only adding to the overall problem. We must fight, fight to know our true selves and fight equivalently against all global prejudices.


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