Not long ago, the UN children’s fund UNICEF, in cooperation with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood and with the support of the European Union, launched a campaign in Egypt to protect children from bullying and to end violence against them.
Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour that occurs in an intentional and repeated manner causing a child to feel hurt. But the fact is that bullying not only occurs against children. It can occur against adults too. A few weeks ago, Rahma Khaled, a woman with Down’s Syndrome who managed to overcome her condition to become a TV host, asked at the end of her show for those who criticise her to give her a chance and to stop bullying her.
Her message does not only concern those guilty of criticising Khaled. It should be taken to heart by anyone who is always trying to frustrate others or to spread negative thoughts.
The UK football club Chelsea recently banned four fans from attending matches as a result of their behaviour towards Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, who had been the victim of racist abuse.
Sterling accused the British press of feeding racism through the way young black players are depicted. “The young black player is seen badly, which feeds racism and aggressive behaviour by fans,” he said.
Unfortunately, racism and the belief in the superiority of one race over another is not only shown in newspapers and the media. It still takes many forms and happens in far too many places.
In June last year, a South Korean court ruled that the killing of dogs for meat was illegal, in the wake of revelations that dogs could still be brutally treated and inhumanely killed in China, South Korea and other Asian countries.
The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is an annual celebration held in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, for example, where over 10,000 dogs and cats are killed and eaten in the belief that eating their meat in summer brings luck and good health. Animal rights activists have reported that animals have been treated cruelly and slaughtered inhumanely, including by being beaten to death with metal bars, or skinned and boiled alive.
These are all examples of inhumanity. Ethics and human behaviour are not always a matter for legal rules, and they may not always be punishable by legislation, but it is certain that they have a strong and direct influence on social behaviour and even indirectly on culture, traditions and beliefs.
Moral and humanitarian rules are the balance of civilisations; they are the human values that have always existed in all religions and cultures.
Ethics once preceded the existence of laws and legislation, and while laws and regulations are always determined by the set of rules that a country or community recognises as regulating the actions of its members and their rights and obligations, and there are always penalties for those who do not comply with these, we must never forget that we should also comply with the rules of our human conscience and our instinctive moral sense.
At the beginning of this new year, I would like to see us work together to spread love and humanity everywhere.
I would like to see us learn to respect each other and to respect our differences.
Perhaps the more positive energy we put in, the more positive energy we will get out. Undoubtedly, the world needs more people who can spread positive vibes.
We all need to look for greater love, humanity and tolerance this new year. And we all need to love, to be loved, to be accepted and to be respected.
*The writer is an attorney at law.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 20 December, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Let’s begin with humanity