Segregation of the Dead

When this thought first entered my mind I chuckled at the ridiculous nature of what I was seeing. In a multi-cultural society, the majority of people are segregated throughout their life, so why are we segregating them in death?

Whether you’re black, white, brown, or mixed race, you’re segregated in every aspect of your life, not just colour or religion. Education, height, weight, facial features, body type, literally anything can be used as a way of dividing people.

Marketing folk do it all the time. Some may say they’re focusing on their target audience, but in a world where people are offended by the slightest thing, I’m surprised no one has used the word “segregation” to describe the division of people based on arbitrary characteristics.

Even if we disregard my obviously crazy explanation of how we segregate people when they’re alive, why do we segregate them when they’re dead?

Is it because of religion?

A few days ago, the Islamic world celebrated the festival of Eid, and every Eid my mum visits the graveyard – tradition – and I accompany her. This time something struck me: even the cemetery segregates people based on their religion. Muslims on one side, Jews on the other, and Christians in the middle.

Why? What is the point of burying people in a place designed only for people of their religion? They’re dead. What difference does it make if you’re buried next to a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Christian, or an Atheist?

Regardless of your religious siding, all religions believe in the Day of Judgement and when that day comes, it won’t matter what religion you followed, you’ll be held accountable for your sins by God, along with every other human being.

I read an article whilst doing a little bit of research for this article that stated Jews, Orthodox or not, wish to be buried with the same sort of people. The average life expectancy of a UK citizen is 81 years; 81 years and the mindset is one that means you must still be surrounded, even in death, by similar people. My mind is genuinely boggled by that thought.

In this same article, people from other faiths, including Christianity and Islam, mention the minimal importance of the body in which we are born. A body that from the second we are conceived or exit the womb, depending on when you believe life starts, changes.

Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, our body is always changing. It is a slow change, our cells die and regenerate, and through the process of ageing, it could be argued that we’re in a different body every day.

Is it because of mindset?

Mindset is hugely important when it comes to breaking down the barriers of segregation.

A lot of people have the mindset of only ever staying within their culture, not wanting to associate themselves, or even trying to build connections with people from other cultures.

How are you supposed to grow as a human being if you only ever stay within your own circle? The common argument that people throw back to me is, “Well, they don’t do it, why should we?” As a child, how did you make friends? Did you wait for all the children to come to you or did you wander around your classroom, speaking to all the kids and asking them what they were up to?

As children, we make friends so quickly and we’re not bothered if they’re from a different culture; we don’t even care if they’re a different colour, we just treat them as our equals. When do we lose that innocence? How do we go from making friends with everyone to only making friends with people we have something in common with? And, why is it that the common thing we’re looking for is culture? Why not favourite sports team or TV show or food?

Is the human mind constantly holding us back and stopping us from breaking barriers?

Is it because of our struggle for identity?

Identity is a big thing in the world today; everybody wants to be their own person and to be remembered by the world. Generation Y/Z doesn’t want to be the generation that history forgets, the generation that never fought in a war or put man on the moon.

Older generations will never be forgotten by history, but the emigration of people from their place of birth to other countries in pursuit of riches may have caused them to lose their identity. This is probably the reason why small communities pop up in cities, such as Little Italy and Chinatown.

That generation emigrated, but this generation, we were born in our respective countries, so why do so many people still have identity crises? Why do so many people still refer to their parents’ home land as “back home”?

By simply using this language, you show you feel as if you’re not part of the incumbent population of the country in which you were born, almost as if you don’t belong there. Imagine labelling yourself in such a way that you’re effectively putting yourself in a corner and then blaming other people for segregating you. Silly.

Thinking about it, it seems as though the generation that is trying to find its own identity is going to make the same mistakes as previous generations. Instead of integrating ourselves with the people around us and breaking down barriers of segregation, we’re simply continuing along the same line, leaving those barriers in place and ensuring we’re buried with people of our own kind.

Segregated in life and segregated in death, never connecting with those from a different background and never becoming our best version.

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