Akrita Reyar The blame game will continue. But there is a need to look for some honest answers. Here again I find Gandhi relevant. “Whenever I see an erring man, I say to myself I have also erred; when I see a lustful man I say to myself, so was I once; and in this way I feel kinship with everyone in the world …..” It is when one falters oneself that one truly learns to forgive. There is no other way than acceptance. The realization that we are, after all, feeble humans makes us more avuncular about the shortcomings of others. It is when we see ourselves as infallible, as near perfect creatures; that we fail to understand the basic weakness of human nature, our proclivity to faulting, making mistakes. So it is only in the process of admitting our own faults, do we actually become more tolerant human beings.
The Muslim world has long held a partly justified grouse that their countries have been converted into war zones to serve geo-political or economic interests of some Western countries, especially the United States. The US has been accused of bombing Afghanistan to rubble, because it aided Mujahideen to get rid of the Russians. The monsters of Osama and the Taliban have been its own creations. This is true. But what must be acknowledged is that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan helped. Muslim nations too have their own geo-political and economic interests. And they are rarely, if ever, driven by high moral values. Pakistan needed to expand its influence westwards and the situation in Afghanistan gave it the strategic depth to counter India in the east. Till date, when attempts are being made to bring back some semblance of normalcy there, Pakistan is sparing no effort to foment trouble. Similarly the US is beaten black and blue whenever any reference of Iraq comes up in debate. I agree. George Bush has blundered. But spare a moment to assess how the situation came to such a pass. Was Saddam Hussein not the one to have first invited the United States to his deserts to train forces to counter Iran? Did his aggression not compel Kuwait to send an SOS to the US! If all this would not have happened, Gulf War Part I would not have been enacted in the first place. The Part II of the war, when the things went horribly wrong, is but a sequel. Why is the Muslim world crying hoarse about the forces of infidels in the Holy Land? Rather than targeting the US forces in Saudi Arabia, should some hard questions not be put to the Royalty, who are the custodians of the Holy Cities? Were they not the ones who sent out invitation letters to the US troops, and aren’t they the ones who lavish such hospitality on their commanders? Oil may have churned out barrels of wealth for them, but their industrial success lies on the shoulders of European and American CEOs. Every company, publication, export house – you name it – is run by Western managers. While the West is blamed for its promiscuous ways, the Muslim countries don’t come out exactly clean. On the one hand in Saudi Arabia there are stifling restrictions on the civil society, but behind the curtains most men watch erotic videos and are regulars at Thai body parlours. Is it okay to drape your own women and ogle at the rest? Every other well to do family in Pakistan has a well stacked bar, and hosts rave parties. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, for example, used to relish Pork! What can one say to double standards like these…. Violence must be shunned Martin Luther King said that we must never allow things to come to such a pass that creative protest degenerates into physical violence. This is of the essence. I personally and staunchly support shunning violence in thought, speech and action. As accomplishing the triumvirate would take a certain level of evolvement, we must at least begin with eschewing all sorts of violence in act. An eye for an eye will only leave the whole world blind! While the US marked the somber occasion of the killings of its 4000 soldiers in Iraq, the fact is that 4000 Iraqis had died in the first week of the Iraq invasion itself. Ever since, we have lost count of the number of deaths in the battered nation. A sure way to heal wounds is to share grief; while we must mourn the deaths of innocents in Palestine and Iraq, the Muslim world must condemn the loss of innocent Jews in suicide bombings in Israel and grieve for the 9/11 victims in the US. Our shared pain can become our common bond. Plurality, the way ordained It is often said that religions are like different paths to reach a summit. Not just the established religions, there are as many religions as the people of the world. Religions can provide us with some basic guidelines, show us the path, but how we choose to traverse the course is extremely individualistic. If we will waste ourselves just forcing others on to our path, when will we get down to the business of making the journey? God is, even though the whole world may deny him. Truth stands, even if a thousand voices rise to refute it. It is self-sustained and eternal. God needs neither missionaries nor mercenaries to propagate the “right way”; for he revels in plurality. Imagine…. what the sky would be without a rainbow, and what a garden that is not flush with colours. A world that has only one race, and people only in one colour will be bland and colourless. What would be faith if it didn’t have different hues and prayer that didn’t have a thousand melodies calling out to the Divine. For that is the way of creation. That is the way it was meant to be.