Religious differences engender division

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Writers Column

Samit Choudhury and Sanchita Paul
Peace is an ideal state which is hard to accomplish if not impossible. In today’s world, the basis of any explicit disagreement or conflict must be understood within the wider context of globalisation. Globalisation may be defined as the process of integration of economies across the world thereby augmenting socio-cultural interactions. With the advent of globalisation events occurring in any part of the world impinge on other parts of the global system – either directly or indirectly. This has significantly enlarged social stress and engendered ruptures along which conflict has materialized. Irrespective of greed, colour, and race, ethnic and religious affiliation, peace has continued to chase the mind of people. According to Oduaran (1996), war, hatred, bitterness, rivalries, carnage, conspiracy and treacherous plots are some of the most conspicuous alternative concept and corollaries to the desirable and soothing concept of peace. Peace is a prerequisite to ensure momentous sustainable development. Even if violence is unavoidable, peace is well thought-out goal for everyone. For peace building, cultural practices are a means of promoting peace, togetherness, love and unity and in creating harmonious relationship.

The present scenario of today’s world is full of turmoil and communal tensions are simmering because of terrorist groups like ISIS. The Middle East and large parcels of Africa are ragged with war. Every terrorist group thrives on communal tension and post a riot. Religious differences that engender divides are passed from generation to generation and perpetuated in discussions between teachers and their students and between parents and their children and also written into history textbooks. Basically women become deliberate targets with rape, sexual slavery and assault. The aftermath of war is disheartening and so we must endeavour to accentuate those elements within each of our cultures that promote a more open and considerate attitude towards other human beings. The purpose should not be the annihilation of group identities but their empowerment through ensuring the safety and security of the different groups.
For perpetrating and preventing violent conflict all over the world, religious groups have an imperative role to play. It is the religious belief, values, customs and traditions that act as a window to different ethnic groups of how they perceive the world and to see what exists beyond the narrow domestic walls. In most societies, religious leaders provide direction on understanding these beliefs and traditions and eloquent the appropriate values and correct moral behaviour for living in association with these beliefs. If religious leaders self-sacrifice and their and create legitimate policies that lead to mass brutality, they are directly creating an environment where there is mass murder and violence, discord and disharmony. So religious leaders must be the dictators of non-violence and as they are accorded moral authority, they can be an influential force for thwarting violence. They can also organise their followers for constructive works for the humanity and engage in initiatives proposed to stop the brutality and encourage alternatives.
 Despite the fact that different religions have different faiths, we share common values and a common goal for peace. In other words, truth is one, wise men deduce it differently. The world must unite into a single whole to ensure peace and there need to be a sense of being a part of peace building community even if there is geographical disparity. The fundamental aim of Buddhism is peace in all worlds. The Buddha taught that if the minds of human beings are at peace, the world will be at peace. Buddhist practices such as meditation and breathing exercises help one look within and transform anger into love and compassion. Also Buddhism accentuates on:
Metta- loving kindness towards all beings
Mudhitha- gladness at the success of others
Karuna- compassion towards all beings.
Thus it emphasizes on living in harmony and letting others to live with dignity. Islam preaches brotherhood of man. The root of the word Islam, ‘silm’ refers to making peace in a peaceful environment and submission to God and follow the path of humanity. Christianity stresses on the disposition to think constructively of others and do them good. All the religions lay emphasis on WE rather than I. All through the history, human beings pondered on their own needs which ultimately led to disharmony. It is high time now to self analyse our strength and weaknesses and change ourselves to the changing world to as to create equilibrium between our thoughts with others.
For building peace in the society, violence needed to be eradicated by recognizing the grounds of violence. Although there are many causes of violence, basically violence breeds from lack of empathy and repressing unresolved and unexpressed thoughts and action. Cultural intermingling and festivals can effectively expose people to new thoughts and provide the way of expression. The term festival is derived from Latin word ‘festivus’ which means joyful. Festivals commemorate a significant event of different communities in existence. Dussehra also known as Vijayadashami is one of the largest religious festivals of Hinduism is widely celebrated in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, et al. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, truthfulness over untruthfulness and so on and so forth. The festival of Dussehra is unique in its perception and connotation. The day marks as the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. As the world was drenched under the oppression of Mahishasura, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti which is a single mass of incandescent energy to kill the demon. A powerful blend of lightning emerged from the mouth of Tridev: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and Devi Durga emerged and fought the battle and won it. It is the occasion that teaches us that if we pursue the path of goodness, virtue and righteousness, victory will emerge. The festival infuses the imperishable human values in us and promotes a society where peace and harmony prevails.


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