Stories

DU MATERIALISM

Your religious proclivities and orientation and those of your family members were nobody else's concern till you made that highly insidious speech on 'Tolerance' a couple of days ago and set stage for a discussion. I believe you are a Muslim, your wife an atheist and your child is growing up, in all probability, in a religious vacuum. My belief is based on information available on the public domain. I am subject to correction. What is it that unites the three of you as a family? Love and understanding or 'Tolerance'?

India is home to millions of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and people of so many other religious groupings and communities, agnostics and atheists. Without prejudice to their beliefs and practices, what should unite them all as people of this great country of ours? A healthy respect based on universal love and understanding toward one another or 'tolerance'?

What is this talk of 'tolerance', anyway? It is something like if you kill an animal and eat its meat which I don't approve of but still keep quiet, you would call me tolerant; if, on the contrary, I say "No", you would call me 'intolerant'. Right? When one is forbidden from eating a horse or dog in the US or Europe and pork in certain other countries by the law and local customs, one meekly accepts it. Yet why should the same person necessarily want to eat beef, much to the consternation and angst of Hindus who worship the cow as their own mother, in the only country in the world which they can call their own? Now, who is tolerant here - the Hindus who call for prohibition of cow slaughter in no country other than their own, or those who insist on their 'right' to eat whatever they want, including beef, despite the law, local customs and sentiments of the majority community people?