Sometimes I find myself asking this question – which era do we live in? The era of beheadings? Burning on stakes? Self-immolation of widows?
Man’s hope of reaching out to an entity in search of happiness, peace and salvation ultimately led to the birth of over 19 major religions with almost 270 subdivisions. So if each one of them claim that their god is the only one that matters, then people whose faiths are different have to be forced into another or away from their own. This leads to chaos and and anarchy; and that's were secularism did its magic. With it's utmost purity to maintain balance and harmony. Recent issues may make us think if that is changing slowly.
How many times have we heard the term secularism in the past two months? It has become the most used and the most abused word in recent history. The issues of communal politics and religious vote banks have put forward new concerns and conditions into play in India’s democracy. The conversions and reconversions bring forth questions stating the obvious “where were the secularists when it happened within our community”. Every color that represents the religious communities has its own cries of unattained justice, hardships and miseries.
Who among us is the real secularist? You? Me? Or those who we elect as our representatives? Do we vote based on the colour of their flag or the person they are?
The most secular people are those who are way below the poverty line. They are the most tolerant as they don’t care if it’s a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian living near them; they just want to live… no.. they just want to survive for one more day. But for the so called politicians, saviors’ and poster children of communal factions, secularism is just another word in their limited dictionary that they use to manipulate those feeble minds which are supported by a weak body.
Children are also amongst the real secularists, till their parents and relatives brainwash them. We would have seen incidents where a mother or a father force their child to throw away a piece of prasad or a piece of sweet offered by a friend who belonged to another caste or religion, because their faith doesn’t tolerate the other, or come across instances where at least once we have heard our parents refer to another person not by his name, but by his caste or religion. If not then you are truly blessed, because your parents are truly secular; but what about those above mentioned people. They sow the seeds of segregation and religious intolerance in kids and thereby to the future generations. When we fall prey to those pseudo secularists and the religious extremists, we are forgetting about our proud heritage and our unity in diversity. The errors of our elders can only be rectified by us, so that our children can build a better world.
Secularism is and should be about understanding, seeing, feeling and recognizing each other like how we recognize our self in a mirror and to identify each other as human beings. Only then can we pay respect to this severely abused word and principle.
Arjun J S