From Racial Rifts to Spiritual Harmony
Why were we all created different? So far, this seems to have brought us nothing but schisms. Kabbalah explains how to put the pieces together
The 2008 Presidential elections are bringing one of America’s most painful and long-standing social adversities to the forefront: the problem of racial inequality, discrimination and racism. “Although public discussions of racism appear to be taboo in the campaign, most observers know that it exists consciously or subconsciously in the minds of many Americans as a crucial factor affecting their voting behavior,” reports The China Post.
On one hand, America has come a long way since the colonial era, when slavery, segregation, Indian reservations, and internment camps were the daily reality. Nevertheless, if you speak to representatives of any American ethnic group, they’re likely to say that they have felt the sting of racism when dealing with other groups. Daily, the media is filled with reports of hate crimes whose victims were targeted on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Claiming they have the right to freedom of speech and opinion, hundreds of supremacist, separatist, racist, and hate groups are openly operating in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project counted 844 active hate groups in the United States in 2006. These include such well-known organizations as The Ku Klux Klan, the National Alliance, National Socialist Movement, and the Aryan Nations. No one is left untouched by this phenomenon—whether Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Jews, Muslims, white Americans, and others.
Of course, America is not the only place in the world with this problem, and perhaps more vivid manifestations of racism can be seen in nations like Darfur, where racism leads to genocide. However, in America the problem of racial inequality and hate stands out most acutely because America has always been a nation of diversity, commonly known as “the melting pot”—from its very first days, it was composed of a wholesome mixture of races and nationalities.
But instead of being resolved, the problem of racial hate seems only to have grown worse in recent years. The SPLC Intelligence Report states that “2007 was another year marked by staggering levels of racist hate in America,” and “The number of hate groups operating in America increased last year to 888, a rise of 48% since 2000.”
If Americans haven’t been able to overcome their racial differences in such an optimal setting for doing so, then what hope do other countries have for resolving this universal evil? Are we doomed to forever continue hating and hurting each other over our inborn qualities, like skin color and ethnic origin?
Moving Beyond Differences and into Harmony
“...the purpose of Creation lies on the shoulders of the whole human race, whether black, white or yellow.”
Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam),
“The Arvut” (“Mutual Guarantee”)
Kabbalah explains that hatred of other races stems from our egoistic nature, which automatically dislikes anyone who is different and feels drawn to those who are similar. Our egoistic perception makes us see anyone who’s different from us as alien, separate and disconnected from ourselves.
However, Kabbalists also explain that we are all tightly interconnected and exist as one perfect, harmonious organism. This organism’s perfection and harmony is created precisely thanks to the differences that exist between us! In other words, harmony can only be created when opposites join together.
In light of this, our situation is quite simple: By nature, there are many differences between us and we are not supposed to eliminate those differences, for even if we tried, it would be impossible. Rather, we should find a way to join our differences together and thus achieve harmony.
It’s not that Kabbalists are utopian, expecting us to love our differences despite our nature. In fact, they’re saying that our present nature will never allow us to relate to each other this way.
The only way to merge our differences is to transform our nature. We have to rise above our narrow, egoistic perceptions and see a much broader picture—the spiritual level of reality. In other words, we must first develop a new perception that’s outside our egoism—and then we will see that precisely our differences and diversities create a perfect, harmonious picture, which Kabbalists call “the common human soul.”
At that moment, all our differences will seem to vanish because they will be united by a higher quality of oneness, as Baal HaSulam writes, “... all the bodies in the world will unite into a single body and a single heart. And only then will all the happiness intended for humanity be revealed in all its glory.” (“The Freedom”)
Then we will understand why we were created with our differences and will justify their existence. We will rise from the narrow perception of, “What’s different from me is alien to me,” to the perception of, “What’s different from me complements me and creates harmony with me.”