This is the anti-racism week of the UN. To celebrate that, I thought I would define racism. It seems, the definition is sometimes lost. That is the real challenge of the modern society.

I begin by declaring that the exact opposite to racism is solidarity. This does not mean racists can not show solidarity to their fellow racists. However, a racist finds it hard to show solidarity to a nother person because of the other persons origins. That is how I would define racism.

The international Red Cross has defined racism as measuring any group of people according to their skin colour, nationality, ethnicity, mothers tongue, culture, or religion as having less value, than a nother group of people. To me this seems as a very thorough evaluation of racism.

Most people are ready to agree that racism is wrong, but how does racism creep into human mind. None of us is born racist. It is something people learn by example, or by experience. Racism appears even between the most primitive societes. It is a primitive reaction. That does not make it a natural and an unavoidable phenomenon. It is a flaw in ethics. It is based on tribal moralism, by wich humans are truly only those who belong to the same group of people as oneself. If one is infected by racistic preassumptions of other people, how is one able to liberate him-/herself of such? Only through compassion. Most of us have the capability to feel compassion, but some of us have hard time to utilize it. Compassion is the guide to ethical desicions. Try to learn about the other people and then push yourself to see the world through their eyes.

Racism is a result of fear. Fear for the unknown. It is quite typical human behaviour, to define the unknown by preassuming something about it. It is the way a weak minded people take controll in a situation overwhelming to their senses. By dividing people and phenomenons according to assumed cultures, religions and even appearances of other people into preset boxes. These boxes or assumed models then give false sense of security by defining how one is supposed to behave in face of the unknown. Friendly, defencively, or even agressively. Far too often this division is done with minimum information. Lack of info leads to bad decisions and poor ethics. Jumping to conclusions rarely helps to find any kind of objective truth.

Demagogues have used racism as a clever method of leading people and gaining power, by the most primitive and darkest feelings of people they can evoke. A politician who subverts to evaluate other people by their origin, is often enough an opportunist, who likes to point at the weakest and smallest groups of society as scapegoats, but rarely has any solutions to the actual big problems of any nation. And people are far too eager to fall for that, because it is so simple to find the blame from someone else. From a group of people who are different from oneself.

The real differences between people are in their opinions, not in their origin, though that may have a great impact on opinions also. As it may affect the wealth of people. Real misery between people is not because of the differences in culture, religion, native tongue, or ethnicity, but between prosperity and the possibilities in life, like education.

Nationalism is a movement and ideal that has given birth to many sovereign nations. It has been the primus motor of many a nation to gain freedom from mighty empires, that have extorted them. There is a problem about nationalism, though. That is the moralistic idea of a nation as a solid entity of unified ethnicity. A silly dream of some sort of a monoculture. That is a blatant lie. All nations are formed of different groups of people.

What unifies a nation? One religion, singular ethnicity, one language, or indeed skin, or even hair colour? Should a nation have no freedom of religion? Should all citizens be DNA tested and given their citizenship only, if they hold some significant strand of DNA to prove they are part of a particular mitocondrial heritage? Should language tests be performed and all lacking in language skills be kicked out of the country, or should they be treated as second class citizens? What about skin colour, or hair colour? Should people be treated differently according to those?

And who gets to define what is our culture? Who is it, that gets to say this or that cultural phenomenon is foreign and does not fit into our society? What are the definitions by wich this is measured? Can a nation that closes all foreign influences out develope itself? Yes, a nation has a right to legistlate some cultural phenomenons as illegal. That should be based not on them being alien to the local culture, but by wether they are ethical or not. Just like with any legistlation.

Racism is not just about “race”. If it were, it would require, that all people belong to some specifically identifiable races. True racism is an attack on a person as a member of some group of people by their origin. People do not seem to grasp, that words change their meaning as our understanding of the world around us grows. Or even if they do, many people like to use it as an excuse, that they cling on to conservative definitions of words. But the world changes all the time. For example, who anymore understands chauvinism only by the ideals of Nicolas Chauvin as bellicose patriotism? There may, or may not be a connection between that kind of thinking and sexism. I leave it up to you decide on that.

Maybe the exact opposite to racism is not solidarity, but in fact equality. Equality regardless of ones origins, or heritage. Equality however, does not outrule solidarity. Solidarity to those in need. Equality without solidarity is in fact just a form of fascism.