This I Believe

Kamal - Irvine, California
Entered on November 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: freedom

From Separatism to Independence in 1001 words!

Separatism is a pejorative term to describe disadvantaged people who are seeking independence from ruling elites that deny them equal rights. In a heated debate a curious fellow asked me if it was ethical to break traditional taboos and advocate separatism. Of course, I said. He argued that the host of a popular radio show and the European revolutionary psychiatrist, Freud, might think differently. The fallacy of authority came to my mind. I told him his radio host might not be updated with the ethical norms of the free world. As for Freud, he might have had some valid points; however, if everything he said and did were reasonable, all complexities of the world affairs would have been attributed to sexuality and death instinct, or his followers would have snorted cocaine to find other imaginary answers. I reminded my opponent to appreciate other traditions, especially the ones that have succeeded in breaking unreasonable taboos to move their society forward. To have a balanced view, I suggested my fellow opponent should compare the approaches of Freud with Benjamin Rush, the American revolutionary psychiatrist, who became a separatist and signed the declaration of independence in order to end the British domination on July 4th, 1776.

Like the British monarchs, other traditional patriarchs or matriarchs would not welcome separation, even in a dysfunctional relationship. Of course in a harmonious relationship separation is a self-centered behavior and should be discouraged methodically. However, in an abusive relationship nothing is nobler than separation and it should be encouraged systematically. In fact based on contemporary values discouraging separation in an imbalanced relationship could be unethical. Despite the noble component of legitimate separations, its practice might be called separatism pejoratively by dominant groups. Even some professionals might forget to name everyone’s inspiration for freedom and independence as it is. Instead they might use separatism to belittle the objective of those that are in a disadvantageous position and strive to end an imbalanced and abusive relationship.

Unlike the individualistic West, the East has remained preoccupied with unions to the point of denying individuals their basic human rights. Just few decades ago, the anti-separatism motto of the East was “workers of the world unite”. Since the prototype of such a unity was serving primarily one ethnic group, the Soviet Union collapsed. Subsequently the disadvantaged workers of other ethnic groups embraced separatism and became free members of their distinct independent nations. The same happened in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. They are now evolving and trying to join democratic unions voluntarily. Today most reasonable people believe the era of other forced unions is over, as we are moving beyond the age of arranged marriages. Some traditional unionists in the East and its Middle argue the West interferes with their internal affairs. They believe the West intends to break their unions so that they are divided and conquered. They ask: if unions are harmful why do the Westerners continue to make their own unity in the United States and European Union stronger? They forget that the US and EU were built voluntarily based on mutual agreement of their members, while the unions of the East has often been imposed by the most powerful member at a given time.

Freud might have attributed the excessive Eastern preoccupation with strong unions to an unresolved childish quest for bigger size and stronger force in the mind of some of their challenged leaders. The ideal model of unions for such leaders is still one that is forced by a bully general. The elite groups in charge of undemocratic states in the East, especially in the Middle, ignore the history of involuntary unions, hope that they can keep status quo, or go even many steps backwards. In the name of unity, they violate the basic human rights of women or ethnic minorities. They are superficially proud of their traditional unitary heritage without improving the conditions that leads to unity. They might not know what their heritage teaches them. As an example they might not know what Saadi, a prominent poet of the region, meant in his poem: “Of one nature is the human race, as in creation has been the case; one organ’s suffering could be the reason, for other organs to unrest the base.” They might not know how to alleviate the suffering of injured organs, so the whole body could be at ease.

Is it possible that the human right violators are products of injury and discrimination themselves? Is it just a coincidence that some traditional unionists accept arranged marriages as social norms, while considering free choice and referendum as evil? Do they see the differences between men and women, children and elderly, poor and rich, educated and illiterate, and self and non-self as justification for treating others differently? Do they see minorities who don’t confirm to discrimination and expect equal treatment as villains and therefore call them separatists? If so, is there any hope for them or is there any model they could learn from? I believe yes. In the past the West has learned form the East; now the former could at least learn back its own forgotten messages from the former.

Without hope the followers of King George III, Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin would still be leading the West. Fortunately the West gained insight into the importance of separations and advocated it through free choice, individualism, and independence. This has led to more equal rights and voluntarily unions among couples, communities, states, nations, regions, and continents. The leaders in the East and its Middle, who resist change and are preoccupied with arranged, premature, and forced unions at any costs, might benefit from a basic history class. To relive their fear of a possible loss, they could be told the separatists of their region will unite and create the United Emirates of Separatia. This might reassured them that separatism does not eliminate their wealth and unity but strengthens it after the individuals, states, and nations experienced equality and independence.