No two people believe in the same things. Whether it’s lifestyle, philosophy, religion, or others’ behaviour, we don’t all trust the same things. My father, for instance, is a huge believer in idol worship. He never begins an endeavour unless he’s got the blessing from the almighty—which involves visiting a temple and lighting a lamp as an offering, before seeking blessing.
I accompanied him once. I watched as he took solemn steps towards the high-perched, sword-wielding lords, a forlorn look in his eyes and devotion brimming in his heart. My father wasn’t trying to flatter the gods into doing what he wanted. I’ve seen a lot of people promising offers to the lord in exchange for their expectations. But my father wasn’t one of them. All he wanted was to inform the lords about his decision and to wish they’d guide him throughout his quest.
I’m not much of an idol worshipper. For me, it all seems meaningless. But the entire time I observed my father, I neither felt like belittling his faith or trying to sway him into my belief of how unstable worshipping a statue is. Instead, I remained in a state of bemusement, surprised at his resolve.
I didn’t laugh at my father’s practice. That’s in part because I was too scared to offend him, but more so because I had no right to mock his way of doing things. How he chose to live is up to him, and as long as it doesn’t hurt me, it doesn’t have to concern me either.
It later dawned on me that this is the understanding we lack as a society. Perhaps if it had been someone else in my father’s place, I would’ve scorned at them. Perhaps we are all a little like that—exhibiting the irresistible urge to make others agree with us. Displaying courage and the vanity to come out as the better person—the more sane person—we often come off as arrogant and assertive.
That’s why we are so divided. We can’t accept the diversity in us. That’s why we fight, brawl, and war. We should, instead, learn to respect the differences amongst us and live with them. That’s the only way forward to build an equitable society.