I hate my Global Studies class. I mean, no. Let me start over. I like my class and my teacher is pretty amazing too. But our curriculum, our textbooks, review books, practice questions and the rest of that mess are horrible. I mean it’s supposedly “Global” studies but all it does is mock 80% of the world. Some of it just makes me so mad, even when the subject has no connection to me. My friend asked me why I care and honestly, I don’t know why. But these few days have just completely annoyed me. And since I only write on this thing when I’m annoyed, here you go… my disorganized mess of thoughts.
One of the oldest religions of the world, practiced by more that 80% of the world’s largest democracy, was reduced to an uncivilized, naïve belief system. If we learned a maximum of five Hindu beliefs, four of them were about worshiping a cow (and the remaining one was probably reincarnation). But the main point was lost. And then there are those dreadful handouts of the practice of Sati, which makes it seem as though bride burning is a regular practice in India. Not to mention the caste system, the rigid, oppressive social structure sanctioned directly by Hinduism! We don’t learn it while we’re learning Indian history. We learn it when we’re learning religions.. which God created an Untouchable and which claimed a Brahmin? Weren’t they all society’s creations? Why religion? And it doesn’t stop there. Everything repeatedly emphasize that the caste system is still prevalent in India (this is about the time when everyone in the class turns around and stares at the one brown kid). Okay, so Hinduism does teach that cows are sacred, Sati is a problem that cannot be denied and though it’s illegal, it does happen, and yes, in many people’s minds castes determine a lot. But what else does Hinduism teach? The Shrutis and Smrities are not all about cows. Shouldn’t we be exposed to at least the main points of the religion (other than the one-word definitions of karma and dharma)? Since 1947, forty cases of Sati has been recorded. But can forty families claim a nation of 1.2 billion? Yes, Sati is horrible. Yes, those wives’ lives were valued. But why is that all we learn? What about all the good things Hinduism has brought?
Then there’s Islam. And the repeated references to the Jihad. Drilled into our heads enough times: Jihad- holy war, Jihad- holy war, over and over and over. Muhammad (PBUH) placed greater emphasis on the internal Jihad, a struggle within the Self against selfish desires and ungodly thoughts. Yet we learn it only as a war and our modern 21st century brains associate it only with nuclear weapons, guns, missiles, bloodshed and of course 9/11. Nothing more, nothing less. At least we do learn the five pillars of Islam.. at least that.
Not to mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its fully biased explanations. If a terrorist is someone who targets civilians, then why is only the Palestinian militants considered terrorists? How about all those Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers; those women raped and killed by the so-called defendants of the Israeli nation? Do they not count? Let me borrow the lyrics of a Sami Yusuf song: “How can it be? Has the whole world turned blind? Or is it just cause it’s only affecting my kind?”
..How about all those African natives killed for refusing to become Christians? How about the Indians massacred in the name of independence (Jallainwala Bagh/ Amritsar)? How about the Japanese, forever scared by technology’s precious A-bombs? The Latin Americans. The Vietnamese. The former Soviet satellites in Asia. How about their plights? We continuously learn about attacks on us, but how about attacks by us? Do they just not count in this game? Who are we taught to grow up to be, citizens of the world or citizens of an intolerant, ignorant, superior-ist nation, a country of big liars?
But I want to be of the world. I don’t want to learn about fake wars.I want to learn about the real ones.
The liars. The truth-savers. The killers. The heroes. The oppressed and the oppressors.
Both sides of every story.
I want to learn politics. But only if it explains both sides of every equation. Without a definite black and white. I know all these students can deal with the grays.
And I want to learn about God. And all His different names. I want textbooks that compare and contrast religions. Find similarities and differences between them.
Bridge the gap between the radicals on every side.
I want to learn about the world, not of nations.
Of humans and of human society.