Happy New Year 2020, my global family! I come across many educated people who say religion is the main problem plaguing the earth. As such, they support the idea of banning all religions, albeit hypothetically if it was at all possible. When you engage with such individuals in more detail, one gets an uncomfortable feeling that they too may be tending towards an extreme, intolerant front, which I call the ‘third front’. The problem is, in doing so – knowingly or unknowingly, deliberately or inadvertently – such people, who are otherwise socially quite responsible, noble and well-meaning, may be promoting an ‘anti-religion’ thought – a thought that may be based mostly on scientism, which is ever evolving – a thought that appears dangerously to be as rigid or potentially as aggressive as any other extreme thought of any other religion.
Banning religions or having ‘no religion’ is not a solution to solve the current or the foreseeable or potential world problems. Developing tolerance and respect towards the humans in all current religions is a more prudent and peaceful path to follow. One should be free to follow any religious faith – that one may adopt or one may have been born into – but, at the same time, one should also be free not to follow any religious faith at all but still accepted by religious people and deemed respectable despite being irreligious. Importantly, in both cases, the focus must be to uphold the intrinsic human dignity of men and women of all religions; develop mutual respect with everyone without stereotyping people; be humane towards one and all; live and work coherently to serve the humanity in general; and, most importantly, proactively save the planet in the process – its ecosystem, environment and all life forms.
If religion does not make you a good human, what is it for? If science, technology and education are not used for the general welfare of the humanity, what are they for? If spirituality does not bring peace within you and radiate peace to the world around you, what is it for?
Recently, I came across one of the excellent examples of being humane, illustrated by an old lady, who can barely walk due to her age but still carries her old pet dog in her lap during her short, snail-paced, morning walks. Carrying a few extra kilos must logically be making her physical movement much more difficult, but her love for her pet transcends her personal pain.
Mutual empathy and care keep the world going and render it sustainable.To me, humanism is the greatest religion of all and service to the humanity is the greatest service one can possibly offer.
To conclude, it is time for us to think and contemplate and ask ourselves a few questions: ‘Why I am here? What is the difference between that worm on the ground and me? How do I help to bring peace and progress in this world?’
… Bill K Koul (7 January 2020)