Not far from where I live, is a set of apartments meant strictly for those whose religion allows them only a certain type of food. No one can bring in even a tiny morsel of food that has as much as a suggestion of the forbidden ingredients. I get why this residential pocket has this strange rule: it’s to guarantee that no one of this sect ever feels offended or uncomfortable, so that at least the place they call home is surrounded only by that which they are accepting of. This is exactly what I have a problem with. Why is it that their beliefs and way of life is okay and to be respected but not anyone else’s? Do the rest of us not measure up to their imagined standards? Are we lesser people?
This is just a small example of an inclination all of us tend to have within us, it is nothing new. We have always been unaccepting of that which we are neither familiar with nor believe in. Settlers and invaders arrived in new territories and if they were strong and powerful, the original residents were marginalised mainly because they lived in a way unfamiliar to the settlers and invaders. The instances of when the lot that arrived and then lived in harmony with the indigenous group, married their two cultures are far less than the overpowering of the milder group.
This post is not about history or my views on the events in eras gone by. Based on the environment we grow up in or despite of it, we end up imbibing a set of values, beliefs and opinions. With time, it becomes a creed we live by. This could be about our faith, our political views and allegiances or our thoughts and convictions on how the various facets of everyday life must be lived.
Most of us opine on and judge everything and hold in disdain that which doesn’t reflect our way. Something that is as simple as colour schemes and choices made thereof can and does lead to our dismissing people for having poor taste and therefore being lesser than us.
Today, the world is not just divided but fragmented because of religious or political beliefs and convictions. This is not just globally or on a nationwide scale, it’s happening around us and within our circles. I do not know if it is my limited vision or the fact that I think many of the things that are going on everywhere are fundamentally awful but, I think hate based on diametrically opposite views seems to be on the rise.
I always thought that it is important to respect people’s thoughts and opinions even if they were completely outside of my views and opinions. I have to confess that there are times now, when I find myself failing to do this. Why is it that I think that anyone who doesn’t agree with my opinion on all matters big or small is unacceptable or needs to be shown the light of day? Do I have a set of values and principles or am I showing signs of becoming dogmatic? How about you? Are you able to keep all your opinions aside and respect everyone’s views and choices?
It so happens that there is one or the other song constantly playing in my mind’s ear and right now, there are two that are playing simultaneously. One is about us imagining a world where all the people live in peace and the other, about how the keys of a piano are ebony and ivory and yet together they make such beautiful music. The lyrics are ever so meaningful and relevant to what I am writing but I know that expecting such ideal situations is simply foolish. Can we then conclude that there is nothing to be done and that we will all eventually destroy each other because of opposing and radical views, convictions and beliefs? That, according to me, is not how it has to be.
While most of us do not possess the wherewithal to make any note-worthy difference to the world as a whole; in fact, not even our country, city, town or village. What we can try to do is, make a start by respecting the opinions and beliefs of those whom we live amongst. If we did that, if we make it a point to be accepting of what people around us eat, what they wear, how they live, what they do to keep themselves amused or entertained, whom they worship or vote for – wouldn’t our immediate world be a better place?
If this caught on as a movement, can you imagine the impact? Maybe, just maybe, mankind will end up making perfect harmony like the keys of a piano.