Why limit yourself to one culture, one religion or one tribe?

Gated community

A store full of all kinds of cultural goods. And yet some passers-by only notice a buddha statue in the window. Kindly nodding, they shuffle in: ‘A practicing buddhist, of course...'.

- No, of course not.

The very word 'practicing' irritates, but the subsequent discussion usually causes more annoyance. Particularly when I object that one can take knowledge of the buddhist scriptures but cannot be a buddhist. (Aside from the fact that buddhism is not a religion).

Until one day the sentence below slipped out and proved to be a satisfactory answer - and it didn't even sound aggressive. But a little more context might be desirable.

- Why limit yourself 2


Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? Or the Proust of the Papuans? I'll be glad to read them! Saul Bellow reacted during an interview with The NYT Magazine in 1988.


The Jewish-American writer Bellow won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1976 for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work. (…) He studied sociology and anthropology'. - wikipedia

Ralph Wiley

To the question posed by him, 'Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?’ the black writer Ralph Wiley responded with the clear and wonderfully simple answer:

 Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus.

Only then, someone wrote in a letter to the editor, the penny dropped:

My years of seeking out my own culture were implicitly an endorsement of the racism that I was trying to counter. I didn't have to look for what's ours, I had to let go of the very idea. I just had to compose my own intellectual, cultural and artistic pedigree, from Biggie Smalls to Hayden.


It's gotta be me 2

Before anything else, some seem to be Dutchman, Russian, or Moroccan, Christian, Jewish, or Hindu, white, black, red, or yellow hetero, gay, or lgbtqiap…

All that I care to know is that a man is a human being, Mark Twain wrote, ‘that’s enough for me; he can’t be any worse.

Some people dive into archives in order to create a family tree from documents and all kinds of registrations that have been handed down. Others fly to Remotistan because some scientists claim that something in their DNA points in that direction.


Where that need to know derives from, gets little or no attention. In order to obtain a clearer, better, more distinguished self-image or identity?

Especially in wealthier countries, people generally assume —consciously or unconsciously — that today's society is much more sensible, rational or, for example, more scientific than that of the (distant) ancestors.

John Stuart Mill

It seemed obvious to John Stuart Mill (19th century founder of liberal humanism) that humankind is progressing. Certainly human beings have transformed their ways of living and the planet around them. It is less clear that they have improved themselves or the world they inhabit. 

In what sense is a Nazi, a communist or an Islamist an improvement on an ancient Epicurean, Stoic or Taoist? 

How are the murderous political creeds of modern times better than the traditional faiths of the past? These are questions Mill’s latter day disciples do not ask, still less answer. - John Gray

George Santayana

The philosopher Santayana dismissed any idea that civilization was improving. Insofar as it was real, progress means refining particular ways of living: 'The reader must not expect me to trace the fortunes of liberty historically or eschatologically, as if all were progress towards perfection. Everything in this world, considered temporally, is a progress towards death. True progress is an approach, in favourable seasons, to perfection in some kind of life.' - John Gray

'We all feel at this time the moral ambiguity of mechanical progress. It seems to multiply opportunity, but it destroys the possibility of simple, rural or independent life. It lavishes information, but it abolishes mastery except in trivial or mechanical proficiency. We learn many languages, but degrade our own. Our philosophy is highly critical and thinks itself enlightened, but is a Babel of mutually unintelligible artificial tongues.’

Chosen by God

Statements such as 'We have the best political system' or 'We're the chosen' in fact all mean the same thing: 'Us first!

Chosen one Trump

Without 'the rest' - without being able to set themselves off against 'the other' - these claims have no content. In essence, they merely are normative comparisons.

Comparison not only implies conflict, but also imitation, doesn't it? Comparing, measuring, it is the start of a compromise. - J. Krishnamurti

You kopie

bijlage boom

If you count back eight generations - two centuries on average - about 256 people were involved to put you here and now in the world. Two hundred and fifty-six creatures who, in turn, had a range of origins themselves.

A currently living individual who counts back thirty generations arrives in the High Middle Ages and may then count roughly a billion ancestors - more than the total population of that time. - wikipedia

The likewise 'bright and wonderfully simple’ summary:

humanity is your ancestor.

waterdrop kopie

When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim, a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? 

JK right

Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. 

So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.  - J. Krishnamurti


In most religions, debates about belief are unimportant. Belief was irrelevant in pagan religion and continues to be unimportant in the religions of India and China. When they declare themselves unbelievers, atheists are invoking an understanding of religion that has been unthinkably inherited from monotheism. - John Gray

Coates - Hughes

I’m not saying that acknowledging history doesn’t matter. It does. 

 I’m saying there’s a difference between acknowledging history and allowing history to distract us from the problems we face today. - Coleman Hughes (about slavery).

Politicians talking of 'the homeopathic dilution of Dutch society' should live for a year in a large Asian or African city in order to understand, to undergo, what an organic society truly entails.

Gilad Atzmon 2

Whether or not we like to admit it, these moments of unity are often invoked by waves of patriotism, nationalism and religious figures. But they could also be inspired by the spirit of justice, equality, compassion and love. - Gilad Atzmon


The chosen one game

Within the ID political cosmos, newly emerging ‘tribes’ (gays, lesbians, Jews, Blacks, Whites, vegans, etc.) are marched into the desert, led towards an appealing ‘promised land,’ where the primacy of the symptom (gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, skin colour etc.) is supposed to evolve into a world in itself. But this liberal utopia is in practice a sectarian and segregated amalgam of ghettos that are blind to each other. It has nothing in common with the promised universal, inclusive cosmos. - Gilad Atzmon

Alexander Herzen

In the Russian author Alexander Herzen’s view (1812-’70), most human beings did not greatly value their individuality, if indeed they had any. They preferred a settled way of life and what John Stuart Mill called:

‘the deep slumber of a decided opinion’. 

Why should those who sleepwalk through this way of life break away from it?

'On what principle are we to awake the sleeper? In the name of what shall the flabby personality, magnetized by trifles, be inspired, be made discontented with its present way of life of railways, telegraphs, newspapers and cheap goods?

Individuals do not step out of ranks because there is not the occasion. For whom, for what, or against whom are they to come forward? The absence of energetic men is not a cause but a consequence.'

JK & DB 2

Jiddu Krishnamurti (philosopher,1895-1986)How do you make all those subtle and enormously complex matters clear to someone who is immersed in traditions, who is conditioned and doesn't even want to take the time to listen and think about them?

David Bohm (theoretical physicist, 1917-‘92)Yes, that's the question. In any case, you could say that this conditioning cannot be absolute, not a total blockade, because there would then be no way out whatsoever.

 JK: If only he had a little patience. But who will listen? The politicians, the totalitarians, the deeply religious, they all don't want to listen. But maybe someone who supposedly doesn't know much, who hasn't had much education or is not so conditioned by his career or money. The poor man who says: 'I suffer. Let's put an end to that, please

DB: He only wants a job. He doesn't listen either.

JK: Of course not.

DB: Then why are we still bother?

JK: Because it is the right thing to do.

Cirkcel kwast







tAll photographs and texts © Kashba, Ais Loupatty & Ton Lankreijer. Webdesign: William Loupatty.