We live in troubled times, in a dangerous and destabilized world that has coarsened our sensibilities and constrained our capacities for goodness. All the world’s major faiths teach love, compassion and tolerance; yet, unprovoked and unimaginable violence is being perpetrated in the name of faith by self -proclaimed rabbis. Those who claim to be emblems of faith are acting in ways that bring dishonor to it and themselves.
Most of the misunderstanding about various religions is primarily on account of lack of deeper analysis of the world’s scriptures. An emphasis on tolerance runs as a common thread through all scriptures. More important compassing and mercy underpin the philosophy of all scriptures. Today’s scholars have started cherry picking select portions of scriptures and expatiating on them without fully grasping their context. There is a tendency to sermonize on other religions on the basis of understanding obtained from secondary sources. This is a slur on the sanctity of scholarship. Critics are teasing and snipping paragraphs from scriptures and distorting the essential message for inflaming emotions. Half-baked and misguided scholars have done great damage to civilization by trying to trump one creed over another.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s sane and soothing words are the most clarified beacon:
“So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
is all the sad world needs”.
Life is really short and it is only when you are at peace with yourself and the world that you can commune serenely with God and contemplate the realm of the cosmic powers.
Every religion has the same common denominator: keep your faith firm in your deity, do your work sincerely, gracefully and gratefully. Our time-tested values of justice and fair play, humility and modesty, tolerance and curiosity are as relevant today as they were when civilization was in its resplendent glory.
The luminous words of the first Indian Chief Justice Chagla reinforce this message: “There is nothing I have valued more than intellectual integrity, the right to call my soul my own, to dream my own dreams and sing my own songs… it is the only beacon by which you can steer your bark through the rough and stormy sea of life.”
The more we gain insights into its mysterious forces, cosmic and atomic, the more reason we have to be humble. The more we harness the huge power of these forces, the more we realize what a small speck we are on this vast planet.
Einstein often invoked God, although his was a rather depersonalized deity. As he himself said, he believed in a “God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists.”
Einstein’s faith in this divine harmony was what led him to reject the view that the universe is subject to randomness and uncertainty.
Finding common ground among faiths can help us bridge needless divides at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As a species, we must embrace the oneness of humanity as we face global issues like pandemics, economic crises and ecological disasters.
Harmony among the major faiths is an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence. From this perspective, mutual understanding is not merely the business of religious believers — it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole.
We must acknowledge that what holds mankind together is tolerance for each other’s beliefs and faiths. Accommodation rather than confrontation is the bedrock of civilization.