What it means to be an equalist
We are only six months away from 2020, a pivotal year for the Gulf, particularly the UAE. Dubai will host the first EXPO in the Middle East under the theme “Connecting minds, creating the future.” What a befitting theme it is today. It is no coincidence that the UAE chose 2019 to be the year of “tolerance,” in an attempt to redefine our understanding of acceptance and coexistence, and to reemphasize the right values as global citizens.
We ask ourselves today about the kind of world we live in, and the kind of world we want to create for our children. In a planet of almost 200 countries, distances are perceived to be shrinking, and we can exchange hellos and social updates within seconds. Yet we have become strangers to one another. Knowing more has unfortunately made us feel less.
Observing us react and interact with one another in the year of tolerance, I could not help but ponder what it really means to be tolerant, and if tolerance is really an accurate description. Do we really understand it? Do we practice it only because we are nudged to do so? How do we really react when we find ourselves in the midst of online squabbles with people we disagree with?
Tolerance should not just mean that we coexist, but that we acknowledge that we are all different — to not only accept each other, but to embrace and rejoice in our differences and idiosyncrasies. After much contemplation, I realized that I could not identify myself as tolerant, but as an accepting equalist. I recognize today that to be an accepting equalist is all-encompassing and reflective.
To be an equalist means I believe in equal opportunities and freedoms. I believe that we all possess the same rights — to life, of possession, and to expression without fear of retribution. I try not to stereotype or identify others based on my biases. To be an accepting equalist is to listen to the radical feminist with the same fervor as the socially conservative, to not practice hate and to not impose your ideologies.
Tolerance should not just mean that we coexist, but that we acknowledge that we are all different — to not only accept each other, but to embrace and rejoice in our differences and idiosyncrasies.
Asma I. Malik
I believe that man and woman are equal, and should have equal access to the same opportunities. They can both strive to seek knowledge and lives they aspire to. I believe that they are born different but live equal. I do not believe in practicing ideologies that separate or segregate us. I do not believe that our gender or skin color matter.
I do not think that race supersedes our personal achievements. Our pride in our nationality stems from our selfless work for our country, not from the benefits that our country provides us. Our ethnicity matters in that it paints us with colorful individuality, but I do not condone conversations that demand to know if you are of Persian or Arab lineage.
I do not believe that we can judge any religion or sect. Anyone should be free to choose their spiritual path, whether it leads them to a mosque in Cairo or to a Buddhist temple in Tibet. We should all be free to choose our sanctuaries, be it a monastery in Kashmir or listening to the crashing sound of Dubai’s waves. I do not believe in discrimination or intimidation. I believe in the power to be equals and to accept one another as we are
We all have social, political and economic concerns. They may be specifically different, but they are all consonant with our humanity. I try to speak the truth, and hope for the truth that lies within us, that we are all equal.
- Asma I. Abdulmalik is an Emirati civil servant and a writer interested in gender and development issues. Twitter: @Asmaimalik