Friday, December 19, 2014

TOLERANCE IS THE GREATEST RELIGION










Pic.: Internet


To me, one of the greatest joys – rather, blessings - in life is the privilege of being able to live in this great city surrounded by people from different faiths, regions, languages, customs and cultures… Frankly, only a city like Mumbai can provide one with such a privilege. Those who live abroad, in great cities like New York, London, Sydney or Dubai, the experience is even more intense… the cross-culture and ethnic mix are of a different kind and proportion!

Here, we learn to mix…

Here, we learn to accommodate…

Here, we learn to pick the best from each other, and overlook the rest…

Here, we recognize, accept, value, respect, honor and celebrate our differences…

Here, we learn tolerance…

Here, we learn to grow through our completely-opposite preferences and beliefs…

Here, we learn to recognize our innate prejudices and conditionings…

Here, we even learn to love each other’s Gods… and, yes, Holy Books…

To me, this unique privilege – this grace, this gift – is a religion in itself, the one of highest quality  and great beauty!


I have some amazing Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhists friends… Whenever, somewhere around here or abroad, something horrible like terror attacks or communal riots erupt, they all feel the pain, sorrow and anguish just the way I do…

There are fundamentalists and hardcore elements in every religion, culture, custom and affiliation… Anything ingrained in our minds against the spirit of co-existence – live and let live – is the deadly seed of fundamentalism!

The place where I live has a vast Hindu majority. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others are a small section, a complete minority. But, never ever have my Hindu brothers and sisters made me feel that I am inferior in any way…

Imagine, if I were to live amidst the fundamentalists!

So, if Jesus Christ is my Lord, let me house Him in the confines of my own heart… For, I have no business to judge the faiths of my fellowmen…

A Hindu, Muslim and Sikh will realize this when they live in New York, London and Sydney… and every non-Muslim ‘will’ realize this truth when he or she lives in Saudi, Iraq or Iran!


Our former President, Dr. Abdul Kalam, is a devout Muslim, a stickler. What amazes me is the fact that he was the darling of BJP-led NDA government! Imagine, he remained, there, as the Nation’s head for all five years with such dignity, grace and strength… that, even today, when   no more a President, he remains the darling of each and every citizen of this country!

To me, Dr. Abdul Kalam is the true face of Islam… Every time someone tries to poison me pointing to terrorism, I point to him this Muslim!

Tolerance. We need tremendous amount of faith – in life - to embrace it… And, yes, we need exemplary courage to declare: “Hey, that’s my religion!”



GERALD D’CUNHA



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