Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Tolerance of Others' Beliefs

On Friday, 18 people were killed in a Mosque. And on Sunday, 84 people were  killed in a Church.

The Muslims in Samarra of Iraq, and the Christians in Peshawar of Pakistan, were in their respective weekly assemblies to worship God.

But were killed. By those who worship terror.

Yes. For some murderous fanatics. 'Terror' is their God. 

Terrorism is their belief. Killing is their creed. Violence is their value.

We all know that however big they say their cause is, they are but senseless ruthless murderers. 

However lofty they say their ideals are, they are but brainwashed ignoramuses, and dastardly criminals.

Religion is not at fault. But the people. Some of its leaders. Leaders with twisted minds who pervert the truth, and preach lies to their gullible apprentices. Inciting them to hatred and violence.

It is a shame that, in our sitting rooms, we are becoming numb, day by day. We stand incapable, unable to react adequately and protest against these mass killings. As if, they are some regular expected phenomena.

It is a shame that we are getting desensitized to the value of human life. We stand nonchalant, helplessly watching rabid fundamentalism as it robs humanity of its very essence. As if, it is some normal predictable occurrence.

It is a shame that we are not holding responsible, the ruthless religious leaders and toothless governmental authorities. The blame lies partly on other religious leaders and governmental authorities who think they know what is right, and what to say and do. But yet, are not doing anything. 

My questions, on societal response to these types of tragedies, are myriad and many. Some of them may have no answers.

Call them aimless ramblings or call them needless rantings,  but they are ineluctable, nevertheless.

If those with knowledge do not teach what is right and wrong, who should? If those in authority do not control the law and order, who will?

If those with voice do not speak out for good, who should? And if those with power do not exercise their power for good, who will?

If preachers don’t preach love and harmony, and if teachers don’t teach freedom and wisdom, what will become of liberty and fraternity?

If politicians don’t make the right law, and if judges don’t give the right judgment, what will become of equality and justice?

Saying ‘knowledge is power’ is not enough. Spreading that right knowledge is vital. The spread of sound knowledge yields peaceful coexistence. 

Saying ‘we are open’ is not enough. Openness and Willingness are virtues that everyone - and especially the politicians and religious leaders - must have. Willingness to understand helps us to peacefully agree to disagree.

Those of us who think we stand on higher moral ground have a greater responsibility. We cannot, and should not, be mute spectators to this blood and gore thrown at us daily from our television screens.

If we are crusaders for higher moral values,and campaigners for peace and harmony, then we must take whatever action we can. In whatever form we can. To let others know that others' beliefs need to be respected and understood.

Religion is not evil. It is the disrespect and disregard of others’ religion that is evil. Men being men, and beliefs being beliefs, we must understand - and accept - that differences will be differences.

Respecting the differences and embracing the opposing is really the true meaning of life. It is the true reflection of harmony.

We have our own opinions. And we want to be free to express our opinions and profess our beliefs. Then, what right do we have to say that others cannot do the same?

We have our own minds. And we are free to make inquiry, scientific or spiritual, to investigate our belief systems. But, what right do we have to think, and say, that others are not doing the same?

Human beings are as much rational beings as they are emotional. But some leaders with contorted minds can feed only the emotional side,while subduing the rational side into muffled silence. They fan the feelings to a such a fiery passion that their rookies' recourse is only to violence and killings.  

When we cannot tolerate the belief of another, and when we cannot respect the thinking of another, we tear out the very fabric of fraternity from this planet.

Like that frog in the well that thinks it knows the world, we tend to wrap ourselves in our own belief systems without making any effort to understand others.

Like that tribal who lives in his village refusing to see the world outside, we tend to feel that our thinking is the best.

Our thought-pattern and our belief system will seem to us the loftiest. All others,we feel, simply do not know the truth.

How many of us - Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, or of any other religions - have made a conscious effort to make long-term sustainable friendships with those outside our belief systems?

How many of us have actually made some time and effort to visit other places of worship or listened to other preachers of different belief systems?

If this day and age, access to videos and reading material is not difficult at all. And similarly spreading our thoughts and feelings to others is not difficult at all.

We should combat, even if we cannot completely eradicate, the hate-mongering by ill-informed demagogues, with our own peace-messages.

We should contribute, by various means, towards the work of those people who are already building bridges between communities.

We should condemn irrational fanaticism and encourage rational understanding of ourselves, and of our relations with others.

Violence begets violence. But it is not enough to preach that "an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind". 

It is important that we open our eyes. Wider. And help others open theirs. 

And our arms even wider. To embrace.

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