A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

It’s just human nature.

Canadian born actor Keanu Reeves has a very multiracial heritage, English, Irish, Portuguese, native Hawaiian and Chinese.

It’s just human nature, is a phrase we often hear to excuse bad behavior. However watching a group of small children yesterday, then hearing this comment later, in a different location caused me to think. Before I go any further, I will for those who haven’t read my page Sweet and Sour Cabbage Rolls, disclose I am the son of two immigrants to Canada, from different cultures and races.

The group of children were in a neighborhood park,  there were about 8 or 9 children between about 2 and 5 years old in the group. The mother’s were all around the group, some reading, a few having coffee and chatting with others. Watching the children, I noticed they came from different ethnic backgrounds, there were a few Caucasians, a few Asian, and one African. I don’t know their nationalities, other than they are all residing here in Canada. The thing that stood out, was they were all playing with each other, no thought as to these others are different from me, they were all brothers and sisters, or cousins. The children were not segregated into different groups, rather there was an ebb and flow, of interaction among themselves.

The second instance occurred on our local rapid transit, where a group from one ethnic group were arguing about the fact that one of them was dating someone from a different culture, and race. Both those words were used by the group, so I mention both, the one word that wasn’t mentioned was religion, in the time I was on the train. The group was universally telling the individual they should be dating from within their own people.

These incidents confirmed in my mind, racism is a learned behavior. Watching the young children there were no hints of it, in fact the few times the ball went out of the group, it was a hey you, get the ball. Ok, granted not perfect manners, but no differentiation according to race. The teenagers on the other hand, were objecting to the fact, that one of their group was dating a person of a different skin color. Now perhaps in some countries, one group or another makes up the over whelming majority, however here in Canada over the last 50 years, mixed race couples have become more common, and more visible.

The point of this is to point out, as parents what values are we teaching the next generation? Is it love, respect for all, equality for all or something else? As a Buddhist I have become even more aware of just how easy it is to pass along attitudes that divide us into groups of us and them.

More on this topic:

http://lijiun.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/human-nature/ a post from one of my favorite bloggers on human nature.

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2010001/article/11143-eng.htm from the Canadian Government, some interesting reading about mixed racial couples.

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4 thoughts on “It’s just human nature.

  1. So much truth in what you have just written here Keith. I am reminded of this quote from a man I truly look up to. ““No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
    Thank you again for bringing this message of unity home to us and to parents raising up a new race of men and women. Sharon

  2. An interesting post, Keith. How sad that it is much easier to hate than to love.

    • That’s the point I am trying to make, is that equality and love are our natural nature. The Buddha taught that we need to regain our natural nature, and this example shows it in action.

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