Monday, March 25, 2013

An opinion on religious tolerance

Further to a letter to the President in the link below on religious tolerance, I wrote the comment below which I reprint below.
People must be free to follow one’s religion as long as it does not interfere in others practicing theirs, or in normal daily activity in whatever one is engaging in.
Exceptions are when it comes into conflict with laws of the land. Sikhs wanting to be exempt from crash helmets when riding a bike! I believe all religions MUST allow flexibility, to permit conformity with the surroundings. For example if a woman was out hiking in the hills, it would neither be advisable to wear a sari or a niqab. One must wear the most appropriate attire for the activity.
Nothing must be mandatory, just permit one to express oneself any which way without offending others. So, no nakedness in public please.
I am somewhat uncomfortable with a statement in the letter  in link, “global resurgence of Islamist Piety in the 1980s” as an excuse to permit fundamentalist behavior. It implicitly forced strictures on people practicing flexibility till then!
Similarly fundamentalist Christian groups also influenced by their own ‘Born again’ beliefs coming around the same time. It just upsets a delicate multifaith equilibrium when one goes into extremes. It is therefore for the newbie to explain that it is more practical for the work, and not a statement of differentiation. The influence foreign powers have had over the years from the Pre Portuguese Inquisitions to the newly resurgent nationalism is one of conformity.
Buddhism practiced in SL is very different to that practiced in most Buddhist countries. It is therefore only a form, not one that is right, the other wrong. The BBS in their zeal to impose cultural norms on those who are Sinhala and Buddhist must tread carefully, as it is just a passing feeling. Sinhala today may not have been Sinhala yesterday. Muslim today, were most likely Sinhala and Buddhist years ago. Gene testing will prove that most Muslims are more native to Sri Lanka than most Sinhala people, so we are all mixed with beliefs that are passing. It is best not to get too hot headed, as many who are Muslim may in future change their beliefs, and so will many Buddhists to others and I dare say many Christians will probably embrace the purer form of Buddhism. The giving away of all desires, as it conforms more with Christianity’s vows of poverty and chastity.
It goes to show that we are just passing through life, so let us live it to the fullest, enjoy it and not upset our neighbors, by our bloody minded intolerance, but at the same time be mindful of others feelings.
By way of example, I do not want my dawn sleep interrupted by loudspeakers from a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist form of worship. Loudspeakers were never part of religions over 50 years ago, so why start now? Think about being good citizens, good neighbors, and above all good human beings.

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