“How can it be that a species capable of such wonder, such beauty and such love, can also be so easily enticed by hatred?” — Nev Schulman (Host of MTV’s “Catfish”)
The quote I embodied was part of an emotional response delivered by Nev Schulman, a Jewish personality, who was not very long ago, the target of a number of odious tweets. The focal point of the harassment? Religion.
And news recently surfaced about activist, Raif Badawi, being subjected to macabre lashings in full public view just because he expressed his views in writing that were considered dishonorable to religion by a certain party.
Something that persistently baffles me is this: why do knowledgeable, educated and intelligent people lack wisdom? Why does the populace demean the values of compassion and forgiveness that each and every religion stands for?
The doctrines of every religion speak of punishment and justice (that are in the hands of God), but underscore forgiveness. Love is the centre of gravity of every religion and every community that is striving towards a harmonious and an exemplary existence.
Intolerance, like a weed among the desired crop of acceptance, is not being rooted out, but is allowed to thrive with the desirable crop until it weakens, withers and wilts.
The Bible exhorts the faithful to treat our brethren “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
By publicly meting out a bestial penalty, insisting that the law of religion and country demand it be executed, what are we trying to imbibe in the minds of the seers, the hearers and the readers? That their freedom of speech and expression comes with a price? That a person can be convicted of a crime just because his thoughts in words were indigestible to some factions? That violence is the solution to establishing order?
The Qur’an urges thus, “The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah…” (Qur’an 42:40)
It is grievous error to state falsely that the will of God is being fulfilled, when in actuality, the selfish wants of people are being catered to in a most appalling manner.
We are now citizens of a world where the response to a mildly offensive deed is hatred. The misdeeds of an individual result in the entire community being pigeonholed.
Hinduism elucidates true bravery as such, “If you want to see the brave, look at those who can forgive. If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can return love for hatred.” (Krishna Dharma)
Modern approaches have greatly contorted the notion of bravery and heroism. Religion does not associate bravery with the act of holding up a rifle or combating a defenseless person. It does not characterize a hero by what he does to gain temporal favor, but rather by what he does to gain spiritual favor; not someone who can assert his dominance by overseeing brutality being executed by his subordinates.
“It is not in our power to explain either the tranquility of the wicked or the suffering of the righteous,” says Rabbi Yannai in Chapter 4, Mishna 19.
Songs have been sung, poems have been penned, books of great magnitude have been written with the sole view of acquiring global concord, but to little or no avail.
But, there is as much beauty in this world as there is ugliness. There are hearts that contain love capable of quenching the fire of hatred. We are all creatures with the craving to receive love and the capacity to give love. No matter the religion we profess, no matter the zone we hail from or the hue of our exterior, our hearts beat as one.
Says the Buddha, “He who experiences the unity of life sees his own self in all beings, and all beings in his own self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.”
Igniting the candle of hope against the currents of disillusionment, I sign off.