Thursday, June 12, 2008

Where would you rather live?

A society is judged by the way it treats its weakest, its most vulnerable members. That is worth spending some time thinking about. There is a distinct image etched in my memory which I have never been able to erase. It is of a local gentleman dragging his shrieking housemaid by her hair, out of a police station and she crying out for help in her own language, to no avail. I have always felt ashamed to have silently witnessed this incident and I feel that the denial and erosion of her rights as a human being will ultimately be reflected in the erosion of my and everyone else's human rights in this society.

If you had a choice, where would you rather live? In a country which provides you with a good standard of living, but does not allow you to put down any roots, since your living there is considered temporary in nature by the authorities, and which has blatant and rampant discrimination according to your origin or the color of your skin? If you can not see the discrimination in your daily lives, perhaps you should take off your rose-tinted glasses. I agree that discrimination exists even among the most enlightened societies, but at least there you are protected by law and have recourse.

You are still young and have the choice to carve out your own niche in a better place than the Gulf. I agree that it is going to be a tough journey and in the end you might not end up making a lot of money in the west. But should money be the only consideration when you are faced with such a choice? What other option do you have? To spend all your working life on a contract to contract basis and then in old age be kicked out to live out your sunset years in a land that will be unknown and strange for you?

People who have been born and brought up in this part of the world, sooner or later become desensitized to the discrimination happening around them on a daily basis. It becomes the norm for them to hand it out either in comments or as deeds and do not even realize it. They tend to notice it only when they are at the receiving end. I have to reiterate that the denial or erosion of any single person's human rights ultimately leads to the erosion and denial of the human rights of each and every person who is a part of that society. Every laborer sweating it out in the sun and every housemaid working from dawn till midnight for a pittance are as much human as you and me. It is just that fate has dealt us a better hand.

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