When arguments break out at the office – as offices are supposed to function – I end up getting this one label at the end of it all – idealist. The world I talk of and the arguments I make are too idealistic, not real. The stuff I don’t want, do exist, they say. I still shake my head vehemently – is that the right word? – as if that would make it unreal. Because when you have no more words to make your point, you shake your head. You will not give in.
And then yesterday came and I read this article. It was about a Muslim and a Hindu sharing this apartment together as a kind of social experiment. I read how they were both coming from conventional households, how they are strong believers, and how they had always lived in neighbourhoods where everyone belonged to the same religion. So it took a lot out of them to decide to do this, and it worked. It’s been three years now, says the article. It is on The Wire, if anyone wants to read it.
The point is, I read it and I had to agree here was reality. I couldn’t shake my head at it anymore. At the office when I fight for ‘all is one’, and there shouldn’t be anything separating man from man, I get “but it is there. It is actually there.” My wanting it is not going to make it happen. So, very reluctantly, I am trying to see religion as a reality. Even as I type this, I have a finger twitching towards the backspace button. Maybe if I just pressed harder, it can still go away. I really don’t want it to enter my mind, my thoughts. But then idealism is only so good, it can’t make things happen. It’s just a happy belief that will make you feel good. Or is it?
I am trying to picture religion as a philosophy. People could have different philosophies. Or ideas. Or opinions. Say, take a movie. I could believe it is good, my neighbour could believe it is not. So this is about people liking different things. Some like one religion, some like another. That could happen. People are not the same, they are equal. Problem is the other differences do not separate them. They don’t turn people into “you” and “us”. Those differences come only in a few conversations, forgotten about at the end of it. But differences of faith linger. Putting people into brackets, as soon as a name is heard. And my mind will not allow that. I refuse to agree they exist. Because if I could shove those away, so can everyone. If I don’t think of a person by person’s religion or caste, it means that it’s possible to do that. You can just think of the person for what person is, without brackets. Out in the air, out in the open, free.
And if it is possible for one, it is possible for all. One day the brackets may stop to exist only because we refused to accept they are real. Idealism may still have a chance.