I am a staunch catholic, brought up in a Muslim country of parents from two different countries with friends from an assortment of religion, language and race. I am in a sense an International individual, I don’t hold any nationalistic views and the world is my home. I am more globally aware of different cultures and races than most of my peers and I am at ease in any country irrespective of its world status. I have no overt stereotyping apart from the belief that paedophiles, sexual predators and murders need to be put away.
Growing up in a cosmopolitan land with friends who fasted, prayed and behaved very differently than me made me not only tolerant but also appreciative of the human fabric. Having a church to go to on Fridays made me thankful of the kindness of the Muslim rulers and the daily blessings we always invoked for them in church made me understand that tolerance was a two way street.
There is a lot of talk about how people need to be rooted in their own culture, how cross culture adoption is not ideal etc. I beg to differ, my mom is a keralite, Indian and my father a refugee from Myanmar, I do not have a mother tongue, as the primary mode of communication for my parents was English. That is the language I grew up learning and speaking, in school I learnt Hindi and Arabic and friends taught me Urdu, Farsi and Swahili. Not one to learn languages I soon forgot all except English and rudimentary Hindi.
However, I never forgot the culture, the accents, the traditions, the views, the prejudices, I absorbed all, assimilating it in my mind and developing an understanding of ethnicity and more importantly appreciating it. I remember asking my mom as a child that if Jesus was the way, the truth and the life, what about all the other religions would those who follow it ever make it to heaven? She read out what St. Paul had said, that for those who did not have the law if they followed what was right and did what was pleasing to God, they would indeed make it to heaven, for the law was written on their hearts. We were Catholics because we weren’t so good and needed the love and mercy of Jesus to save us.
If only I could see that kind of love and tolerance in today’s world, there wouldn’t be such arguments about building walls, keeping immigrants out and turning away the destitute because they didn’t belong geographically. Nationalistic pride and self-preservation has made us hardhearted and xenophobic. We have forgotten what it means to love, to be kind and most importantly to be human. We fall to our knees in times of crisis but when given the chance to show mercy we turn away, it is no wonder that our societies are turning cold; crime is on the rise and hatred an all time high.
We talk of colonising Mars for we have already given up on planet Earth, we talk of peace but perform acts of war, we talk of winning hearts without really believing that the enemy has a heart and we raise awareness about all that is wrong in the world without celebrating all that is right.
We talk but we don’t reach out, to the elderly neighbour struggling to take the garbage out, to the homeless who shivers in the icy cold wind, to the orphan who has turned to drugs and to the family member who could use a kind word.
Perhaps the view on Mars would indeed be pleasant.