I’m having one of those moments from the Hollywood movie climax scenes when the Villain surrenders to the will of the action hero or when Julia Roberts finally turns up out of the blue and says;
“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her!”.
The context of my touchy-feely observation however, isn’t cinematic romance but the magic of human connection.
It is Diwali , a Hindu festival of lights and sweets. I see pictures of my Muslim cousins lighting diya’s (earthen candles) with their Hindu friends and neighbors. Long forgotten friends who are separated by time and distance, reach out to send wishes and my little niece jumping up and down, repeating Happy Diwali like a cheeky parrot, while enjoying fireworks.
Lately India has seen immense turmoil which began from the political arena and somehow sunked into the emotional one. This kind of turns off your faith in humanity and whispers in your ear “the world is evil”.
When I was a child and I learnt in history books about the partition of India and Pakistan, even as a child it broke my heart. Not because of the separation but because the cause of separation was religion! If the segregation was done for any other reason, it wouldn’t be painful to grasp for a silly child who believed when the teacher said “love thy neighbor”!
Later I thought may be religion was supposed to provide all the answers because after all it was powerful enough to separate people from their beloved ones.
As I delved deeper into Islamic history, I found out that there was inconsistency even there. There were two sides- Shia and Sunnis. Our parents would teach us how our ways were different from the Shia’s although we believed in the same name of God- Allah! Religion lost my vote- (Allah didn’t but religion did. Yea, there’s a difference)
Growing up was fantastic until I was told “hey, you’re a woman, your world, your life isn’t the same as men! They CAN dream and fight and be ambitious, you are just gotten out-of-our-hands“. The evil distinction creep-ed up again.
I thought to myself- “oh no, not again!”
Before I was told these horrible messages that demean my gender and question my strength, I never saw myself any differently from a male. I was just a human like any other.
I can’t believe in 2015 my mother and I still have an argument when I ask her if I can pick poultry from a local shop in Lucknow and she would say “that’s a man’s job. Men go to slaughter houses not women.!” Ya, you guessed it right- every time that happens I bring home 5 kilograms of Chicken.
But these regressive messages from family, society and media did one great thing- they turned me into a FEMINIST! A woman passionate for women’s rights and gender equality.
I’m so grateful to the Almighty God that He stumbled me on feminism that has helped me become a strong woman who was once falling apart. It has worked as a therapy and I feel truly enlightened in the light of feminism.
However, sometime ago I saw the difference of opinions within feminism on the subject of trans women and women born as females biologically. Without going deeper into the debate and being forced to pick sides, I think I’m going to back off for a moment.
It’s not because I’m afraid to debate, but because I don’t want to loose sight of the BIG PICTURE- ensuring human rights of all beings are of utmost importance.
This sends me back to the other conflicting situations I have witnessed since childhood-
Indian – Pakistani
Pro trans feminist- transphobic feminists
I feel that it is OK to have a difference of opinion (or religion, country, sect, caste, gender) , about the details of anything but if those details make us forget the holy purpose- the big picture- the big reason why we are in it in the first place….then the details won’t matter anyways!
Coming back to Diwali and the beautiful relationship between Indians who identify as Hindus and Indians who identify as Muslims… its just magical.
And before you get manipulated by any religious-political hate speeches and start hating your friends and neighbors- remember this-
No matter how powerful the government may be- it has a shelf life of 5 years! Your relationship with your Hindu/Muslims friends and neighbors has to last much longer, usually lifetimes. Getting excited by the hate messages, don’t say or do something against other Indians (or Pakistani or Africans,) that would be too hard to take back. Things that would make you never look them in the eye again.
For me, Hindu Muslim issue is NOT POLITICAL- its PERSONAL!
I despise both Muslim and Hindu political leaders who are trying to get votes by saying “hey, I got a Muslim name, vote for me”! Any leader that does not see that Hindu-Muslims, Indians-Pakistanis, we are all ON THE SAME TEAM- the team of HOMO-SAPIENS, is just wasting your time.
This does not mean I’m trivializing the details or differences, I’m just making a humanly message without pointing or defending one side over another. Being objective opens up our minds to our own misconceptions. How else do we grow if we keep holding on to our egos instead of people?
I mentioned the conflicts I faced since childhood so you can get the picture of how people in the history of humankind have created differences and conflicts between humans for their own purposes. Before supporting one side over another, we should rather look for what is ‘human’ and unites humankind positively.
Thanks for reading this and if you agree with my observations, please share this post with your friends and network so more of us would have the courage to stand together, not against each other.
Wishing you all a very HAPPY DIWALI! May this festival of lights enlighten us and those who are screwing up our ‘unity in diversity’.
Peace out 🙂