Diversity is a hot topic. Should we take in more or less refugees? Do we want more or less international cooperation? And should borders that have been opened in recent decades be closed again? Interestingly enough, religion is often mentioned as a big theme in the debate surrounding diversity. ‘Islam is a violent and hateful religion.’ ‘Our Judeo-Christian tradition is under threat.’
Statements like these make me feel queasy. I do not feel particularly Christian, and not Jewish at all. I’ve met many Islamic people, all over the world, and found them to be among the kindest I know. And while apparently we ‘need to protect’ the Judeo-Christian tradition from horrible outside influences, Buddhist and Hindu practices like yoga and meditation are becoming the norm, and everybody is raving about that. Even though some Buddhists are not opposed to Christian or Muslim suppression either.
Let us all just believe what we want, I say, and give others that same freedom too. I remember a night some years ago, in a tiny village in the hills west of the Dead Sea. With a young Palestinian and his fifty year old aunt I was looking at the most beautiful night sky I had ever seen.
‘Look at those stars,’ the aunt said, ‘they have had to be created by Allah. How can one look at this and not believe in Him?’ ‘Why,’ I parried, ‘would this be his work?’ That answer was easy. ‘It is written in the Quran.’ ‘But how do you know that that’s the truth?’ I wondered. ‘It remains a man who wrote that book.’ ‘Maybe,’ she said with certainty, ‘but the words are from Allah.’
‘What is it that you believe?’ she wanted to know. I told her about the Big Bang, colliding rocks and clouds of dust. ‘Where did those rocks come from?’ she asked. Tough question. I mumbled something about other rocks colliding. ‘But,’ she continued, ‘where did it all start?’ ‘I’m not sure,’ I admitted.
‘They are beautiful, in any case,’ the man said, as he looked up again. ‘Yes,’ we agreed. And in calm silence we drank our chocolate milk.
Like this little story of mine? More Tales on Tuesday