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‘Are muslims bad people?’ pat came this heart piercing question from my child and I shuddered.
'No, not at all baby, religion has got nothing to do with a person being good or bad, and besides, everyone is nice..’. ‘Who told you this?’ I asked intriguingly, already worried about the next question which came soon after. “So, do you mean I can be friends with them?” ‘Yes ofcourse, you don’t care about religion when you make friends. You like someone, you become friends’. I responded firmly.
I don’t know whether I handled this appropriately and to what extent I was able to satisfy her innocent mind but I know for sure that we, as adults inhabiting this planet in this moment, have miserably failed to immunize the new generation from the unspoken yet deeply felt great community divide. I would like to mention here that I belong to a family which is extremely open minded, is a conglomerate of people hailing from multiple cultures and religions, a family where there is absolute freedom to follow one’s heart and the religious beliefs of everyone are equally respected. Sadly, even in this kind of environment, I did get questions from my child.
After her Q&A was over, she happily left to play with her friends, leaving me very uncomfortable and at the same time, responsible for the current state of our world. Generations after generations, we have been dragging such issues, bruising them more and more, have not been able to do anything concrete, infact only worsened it by bringing them up again and again in different forms and issues. Lets accept it. Religional divides, caste divides, regional divides are all here to stay. In such a complex ecosystem, where ‘intolerance’ is the word of the hour, what should we be doing about it? Or should we be doing anything at all about it?
No one realizes that when there are tensions and fights in the society, they have a humongous impact on the purest of minds who know nothing about it till then, till they read in the newspapers or till they hear on the news channels or till it becomes a topic of discussion in family get togethers. We forget that these tiny minds are the greatest observers and deepest thinkers.
Usually, my parenting style is to talk issues out with the children, to make them aware of the issues and help them deal with it their way, the way they think most appropriate. However, in this case, I truly believe that the solution lies in not considering this as an issue AT ALL. As parents of the new generation, I think the least we can do, till someone comes up with a magic wand, is to really do ‘nothing’ about it. May be with silence and inaction, this will get buried in the years to come and the newer generations will only know to co-exist with each other, in harmony.
In Tagore’s words, ‘Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake’.