By Sonya Rehman
As our world constantly evolves, develops and progresses, the human race faces a diminution with regard to its religion, culture and traditions. We seek to develop the ‘external’ world but what about the one ‘within’, the internal world that lies inside us all? With man in the 21st Century, what does he hope to realize, attain and accomplish? A better job? A brand new car? A bigger house maybe? What more could man possibly attain to be fully satisfied and content? None of the tangible but the birth and growth of the spirit within.
But the question remains, why has man drifted from his faith, his values and his beliefs? Is it due to the fact that the pace of our lives has started mirroring a rat race? And that too an eternal one? Is it because too much stress and emphasis is placed on attaining ‘things’ rather than satisfying and filling the void that devours us within? It is this very chasm of emptiness that lies inside man that stretches the chord of faith between himself and his spirit. For what is man but a hollow carcass if he is without a complete soul?
The more conventional-minded subscribe to the fact that the wall that stands rigid between man and spirit is due to globalisation – the ‘mesh’ of cultures that has corrupted and besmirched systems of faith by moving man furthur away from his beliefs. However, this is refuted by the fact that change is crucial for evolution. How will the human race progress if it is not able to understand, recognize and be familiar with other cultures and religions of the world? Is it better to reject by tying the blindfold of ignorance over our eyes? Or, is it better to be informed and aware? To accept does not necessarily mean to embrace wholeheartedly – it is to understand and to recognize. All religions and ways of life teach acceptance. So when different social strata’s are introduced to new alternative ones, acceptance becomes a necessity for harmonious living.
Consequently, man should know when and where to draw the line with regard to how much of another culture and a new way of life should be embraced. What may be beneficial and favourable should be adopted but what should not be forgotten is that those particular aspects that do not conform to the existing culture should not in any way be allowed to filter in. Nor must it be altered or distorted – for fear that the existing culture is smothered and then eventually lost.
Just as pliable as plasticine is, so is the human being. Just as our society evolves, so do we. The human being is in constant change and transformation from the day he is brought into this world till the day he departs to his grave. Therefore it is imperative that individuals do not lose sight of who they are, where they are in the present and what they aspire to become in the future. As the poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran once wrote: “And he to whom worshipping is a window, to open but also to shut, has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows are from dawn to dawn. Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.”