Last week, I visited the biggest city of Java island as a part of my South East Asia sojourn. As I prepared my itinerary, I decided to spend some time at St Mary of the Assumption Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque on the first day of my three day trip. When I took the motor taxi to visit the cathedral, I was pleasantly surprised to see the mosque located right opposite the cathedral on the other side of the road.
While this was not my first visit to the church, I attended the daily mass for the first time. I was mesmerized by the enchanting recitals. As I was about to leave the church, I could hear the azaan and see a group of men heading towards the mosque. With an already simulated spiritual self, I was intrigued by the tall minaret of the mosque glistening in the evening sky. I followed the men, cleansed my hands and sat in one corner of the prayer room. As the namaaz was in progress, I couldn’t help but appreciate the peaceful coexistence of two different religious groups in the same neighborhood and how seamlessly the locals have embraced diverse religious beliefs.
While I was impressed with the serenity, it still made me question whether differences can always invoke equitable and ready acceptance. Do we really embrace differences or do we feel embarrassed of them? A simple yet powerful instance from daily life reminds me of our general intolerance towards differences. Just a couple of days back, I saw the lawn mowers plucking the weeds in the garden right at the backside of my residential block. This regular exercise of weeding out ‘different’ looking plants exemplified our lack of acceptance in daily routine. May be we are so used to living a life modeled on a visible pattern that we tend to become hostile if we encounter any deviation or difference. Be it in terms of religion, sex, color or beliefs, we create such high barriers that we cannot appreciate anything that comes in a different figure or form. I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts of one of my fellow blogger, Bamboozled who recently posted about our general inability to embrace the different.
Being embarrassed and being able to embrace are two extreme shades of human reactions. Our brains are by default set to ‘embarrassment’ mode when we see someone or experience something that comes with a stamp of ‘different’. But then there is another mode that our brain is not used to, ‘embrace’. Probably, switching over to this mode will demand us to become more open and respectful towards life in different forms. While for an individual it may take years to become more accepting in nature, it may take a lifetime for humankind in general to move from one ‘E’ to the other. Probably, the day when the lawns will be sprawling with greenery and plants of all form, shape and size, we can truly regard ourselves as educated. Till then, we still have a long way to go.
PS – I have not seen my garden for a long time now. May be its time to go back home. 🙂