My “manifesto” -so to speak- for writing has always been to provide ideas that make you reflect, and by no means is it to impose heavily saturated topics like religion and politics. However, the temptation arose while reading The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez. I could feel the urge bubbling up to write and write and write about the things that really stood out for me, knowing full well that it would go against everything I stood by when it came to writing. Frankly, it was hard. This novel stirred emotions and agitated me beyond belief (however, don’t get my wrong, it was a pleasure to read all the stories that were intertwined in this fabulous novel). So what now? Well with all the heavy religious politics weaved into the novel made me think about our shrinking world and how tolerance plays a huge part in today’s society. We are constantly surrounded with people who come from various places with different mentalities. It’s only natural that a little friction will occur between different groups of people, but how do we keep everything in perspective to avoid snowballing the friction?
To answer that question, let me introduce this lecture given by Ven. Dambara Amila Thero, a Senior Lecturer at the Sri Jayawardenapura University. He mainly talked about Buddhism and its place in today’s society, but he also incorporated more universal truths and themes that we can all learn from. In that being said, I want to share with you all this one quote that really struck me:
“…the rivers Ganges, Yamuna, Achiravati, and Sarabhu flow down from the Himalayan mountains towards the ocean separately… Once they reach the ocean they are all referred to as the ocean. This was taken as a metaphor to explain the matter that we do not need nationalistic divisions, caste discrimination, religious divisions and prejudices.” – Ven. Dambara Amila Thero (translated from Sinhalese)
It’s a brilliant metaphor, n’est-ce pas? We’re all the same, all classified as humans and yet we tend to shine a negative spotlight on our differences when something goes awry. This spotlight tends to instigate violence and ultimately full-on war. Now don’t get me wrong, our differences make us, well different! We take pride in them and we form communities based on them. Unfortunately, the trouble lies when these same differences are not tolerated. Don’t you think that when people become fixated on everyone else’s differences, they pave the way for prejudices to settle in? It seems that way doesn’t it.
So here’s the big “why” question:
Why can’t we all get along?