Racism is the biggest challenge, and religious intolerance is creating problems for politicians around the world, mainly due to the rise of Muslim fanaticism and the numbers of migrants now fleeing war zones. In fact, these subjects played a major role in the American presidential campaign and continue to do so following Donald Trump’s victory. Yet, how many truly understand what #racism means? As a son of Italian migrants in Australia I have always faced these issues and few of my generation managed to grow up without encountering some form of discrimination.
It took us years to understand what we went through. Such as when our teachers decided which subjects we could study because of our background and not according to our capabilities. Regularly, people in the street or on public transport tell us to speak English, even when we are talking with our parents or with foreign tourists. For us Italians it is also the constant stream of snide remarks that “all Italians are mafia” which in recent years has been replaced by “All Muslims are terrorists."
I did not overcome my anger until I understood what had been staring me in the face all the time. Those who treat you as an outsider have never understood what it means to be a foreigner in your own country of birth. Migrants and their children are new and for them anything new is unknown and therefore intimidates them.
Trump’s election has raised these issues to a new level for the United States, but we must not think that they are limited to one country. Anyone reading the international news sites and following debates on social media knows that more and more people have become much more willing to make judgments according to race, or religion and often in the language of school yard bullies.
In 1989 President Ronald Reagan, challenged the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall and that moment became part of our history. Now President elect Donald Trump wants to start building #walls The border wall around parts of the country and at the same time other countries plan to build walls to stop the refugees. History has clearly shown that these walls are useless.
Sadly walls do exist and they are even more imposing because they condition behavior. These are the walls within the minds of individuals. Walls that state that skin color, religion, or passports decide whether a person is good or bad. Walls in the minds of European leaders who want to keep out non-Christian refugees. These walls exist in the Middle East where ISIS decides who lives or dies according to faith. In the United States the white supremacist #Ku Klux Klan Trump has attracted support from openly celebrate his victory and his plans for a wall.
These walls make foreigners of people born within national boundaries and this mentality causes torture and death. The will to build barriers comes from fear and reflects the desire for a world without change. Such a world has never existed because world migration and refugees have always existed and always will. History is full of examples, beginning with the Bible. What was the Exodus if not a group of refugees fleeing persecution?
Creating new categories of foreigners and political agendas based on racial or religious superiority does not solve problems, it creates them. The problems will only be resolved when refugees no longer flee their homes, when all systems of government recognize that we all have the same rights and that nobody is considered superior or inferior due to an accident of birth.
Is there a world leader with the courage to finally tear down the walls in our minds?