All Men are Equal: Red Card to Discrimination
The treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favour of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit is known globally as discrimination. Over the century, nations have shattered; people have lost their lives and have suffered because of various forms of discrimination.
Discrimination against race and xenophobia caused Hitler to want to massacre a whole race. Discrimination because of religious difference is causing the lives of innocent Nigerians being hooked in the Boko Haram crises. Discrimination against tribes caused one of the worst genocides in African History which took place in Rwanda.
Biblical Equity of the Human Race
Discrimination takes us far away from the fundamental principle of the equality of the human race. Genesis 1:26-27 explains this equality: “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” If we understand this concept of being created in God’s image and resemblance, then we will treat all men on equal terms. Most developed countries in modern times adopt this principle. The American experience explains it better.
Drawing example from America
One of the key sentences to note ever since the Declaration of the US independence since July 4, 1776 is: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Great thinkers and human right activists consider this quotation of Thomas Jefferson as a major statement in human rights. The American continent harbours men and women from several races, ethnic groups, languages and culture. The only common denominator to equality is the fact that it is God who did it. One now understands why the quotation “All men are created equal” has been called an “immortal declaration”. Seeing the Americans live, at least to a large external extent, one can say that there is conscious effort to see to human rights and break all barriers resulting from discrimination. It is a pathway and no society has had it perfectly because there are so many setbacks.
America too had faced a situation of black-white segregation in the 20th Century which led to the rise of Martin Luther Jr’s nonviolent revolution. The situation was such that black people had to sit in the uncomfortable chairs and the white people had all the comfortable chairs. More to that, there were lots of restaurants open for whites and hardly any open for blacks. Worst still, blacks had to use different drinking fountains from whites. And above all, they had to pray without whites in church. Blacks were cursed, chased, lynched and killed, just because of the colour of their skin. When blacks came into the stores, white people wouldn’t answer their questions.
The South African Experience
Back in South Africa, Apartheid ravaged the black race seriously till the early 1990s. They were discriminated against by the white people who saw themselves as having full political rights. It reached a stage where black people were forced to live away from white people, to go to separate schools, not to intermarry, and so on. Defaulters were maltreated, subjected to torture and even killed. This was the case with Nelson Mandela who suffered imprisonment for 27 years!
Fighting discrimination in Cameroon
A country like Cameroon, endowed with Rich Human and Natural resources, harbouring just about 20million human beings is an epitome of a country floating in the sea of discrimination which shows itself in various forms: tribalism, corruption, greed, favouritism, political and religious manipulation and nepotism. There is a lot of controversy in the political, social, and religious hemisphere because knowingly or unknowingly people have been brought to interpreted justly or unjustly everything in Tribal terms.
One can hear Cameroonians complaining after public competitive exams for entrance into professional schools and for employment in these words “I failed because my name is not “A” or because I don’t come from region X” or put in other words, “I don’t speak the “Y” language”. These have become imprinted in the minds of Cameroonians so much so that even when some people don’t merit positions or at times admission in to institutions they wail and complain of tribalism.
Every human being is a member of one particular tribe. And our differences should instead be of advantage. There should be unity in diversity. If this assertion is true, then it should be an advantage and not disadvantages. Cameroon is not the first country to have diverse tribes. In spite of their tribal differences a country like Switzerland has succeeded in preserving their identity as a nation. America has the same experience. We need to look onto Jesus as an example.
Jesus and His Followers Fight Against Discrimination
Jesus was clear in fighting this canker worm known discrimination. In Luke10:25 – 37 Jesus gives the story about the Good Samaritan when answering the critical question… “Who is my neighbour?” In a world where there was discrimination against the Samaritan, Jesus gives this story to show that Samaritans can be good in John 4, He even encountered the Samaritan on the well side
The early community after Jesus lived in one heart and one mind without discrimination (cf. Act 4:32). In Acts 6, with the increasing number of disciples complaints arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being discriminated (overlooked) in the daily serving, of food. The Deacons were instituted to solve the issue. On this note, in the world, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (cf. Galatians 3:26)
Learning from the Catholic Church’s Documents
The Church in modern times continue to warn against discrimination and attests vehemently to the equality of human Beings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists: “The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, colour, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.” (CCC 1935). Therefore “assess to employment and to professions must be open to all without unjust discrimination: men and women, healthy and disabled, natives and immigrant”. (CCC 2433) The Church therefore reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, colour, condition of life, or religion (cf. Nostra Aetate n. 5)
We encourage the Universal Church and the Cameroonian Church in particular to be at the forefront to fight discrimination putting into consideration the injunction of Lumen Gentium n. 26 “Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ, and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition." This fight against discrimination should not only be in theory but it should be practiced in all its institution. The church therefore should continue to adopt as motor this celebrated phrase quoted by Pope John XXIII, “All men are equal in their natural dignity” (Pacem in Terris n. 89.)
Rev. Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh Basebang, cmf
Absolutely right...it should be global movement