What I learnt about tolerance

I hail from a Kerala – Hindu – Nair family – talk about keeping things simple. I was born & raised a Hindu. Not that I was ever deeply inclined towards religion in the major part of growing up, my own or any one else’s.

In college I did wonder that God was soooo far up there ‘in the sky’ & we were out here.  It was a huge chasm dividing us according to my teenage worldview. The concept of ‘knowing God personally’ was alien to me. I also recall seeing our college motto ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ & thinking… I have absolutely no fear of God in me.

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As a part of the college grind & my musical inclination, I joined the choir. A Catholic all girls institution, we sang our monotonous parts in the choir during the college programs & inter-college choir fests. Students from all religions were a part of the choir – Hindus, Muslims, Christians. We practiced songs like What a difference You made in my life &  Still Small Voice – songs about Jesus…which were frankly dead beat & lackluster to me. It had no special meaning. It was just a part to be sung.

Maybe because I did not know Him whom we were singing about.

The choir was a ritual of sorts especially during the Christmas season – we had fun participating, the songs were just plain boring & to be put up with 🙂 Lots of practice went into it – the altos, bass, sopranos all trying in right earnest to create  holy harmonious sound. Now we are wearing costumes, now we are performing, holding candles, trying to look like a bunch of angels. It was an event to participate in. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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I went through my phases through high school & college where I added Infant Jesus & Sai Baba along the way.

And then came Jesus Christ.

The God of the Christians. Who doesn’t know the story that He was crucified?

But hang on a second.

He died for me. To pay for my sins. Offering me forgiveness. I could get to know Him personally if I accepted Him as my Saviour.

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Jesus had  first touched my two older brothers lives in a deep way & they had accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Then this erring sheep, me…which took much longer work – perhaps a year or so. I resisted going to Church if my brothers even attempted inviting me.

In the meanwhile, I had started reading a  365  day Bible, a portion to be read each day of the year. I guess that did it. No thunder or lightning or super spiritual experience. I just knew I had encountered Truth. There has been no looking back since. It was not me choosing to follow Jesus. It was as Jesus said  “You did not choose me, but I chose you…”

I am grateful that He chose me…far from perfect & still no way close. He is my Perfect Saviour.

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For those who move away from the faith they are born into, it usually has some adverse ramifications in the family & community.

I thank God for my Parents who released us to follow our heart. Bold acceptance on their part. The courage to be tolerant & accepting. To face any flak on our behalf  including comments like ‘how could you allow them…no control, no discipline etc etc” I’m pretty sure.

My Mother’s only request of us was that we don’t shove our religion down her throat 🙂

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I’ve known & read of people from similar backgrounds who chose to follow Jesus  & had to face trials in their lives. Being thrown out of home, being discarded or persecuted in various ways. This is pretty much true around the world when people opt to choose another faith from the one they are born into.

I am grateful to my Parents for their tolerance & complete acceptance when three of their four children chose to follow another faith. Becoming  Born Again Christians. Reading the Bible. Going to Church. Getting baptised.

My Parents have chosen to respect our faith & have never made it  uncomfortable when we don’t participate in pujas or Hindu rituals. They have never insisted that we do so. They have shown us grace & allowed us to opt out if we so wished.

My Parents still go about their pujas, one of my brothers is a devout Hindu. Yet…they have given us fullest freedom in our individual journeys with Christ. They respect our faith. No hide & seek religion out here. It’s plain & open for all to see.

To me this is the fabric of freedom of faith & tolerance. It is the true meaning of co-existing with diverse religious view points.  By giving one the freedom to choose & the  space to follow something… which is eventually only good.

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There’s no place for dogmatics. Arguments & debates are generally futile.

Give peace a chance. Give another the support they need to follow the leanings of their heart especially if it is something as good as positive faith. God Himself does not advocate force. Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door, and  knock”…He is too much of a Gentleman to barge through the doors of our lives.

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My Father’s broadmindedness, respect & tolerance of our decision to become followers of Christ is truly so rare. One of the most outstanding memories of this tolerance is –

As an early Christian years ago, there was a small Bible I would read – my brother once put it in his pocket & went on my bike…the Bible fell out of his pocket. I was upset & must have had a long face. When my Father found out I was upset he went & got us this great big Bible, in which he wrote to us three on the front page of the Bible these words which I cherish –

Mine own ignorance is so vast,
My knowledge so miniscule,
I give thanks for the wisdom to be more tolerant and give all the chance to find God within themselves.
For surely the True God is within us.
With all good wishes to improve your Knowledge of the Bible and your quest for the ultimate truth.

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I have learnt that the world does not need more religion.

What the world needs is more tolerance. An abundance of it.

I have learnt that you have to show mutual tolerance & respect for people whose beliefs & faith may be different from yours.

I have learnt that we have to live & let live.

It is the only way to be happy.

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20 thoughts on “What I learnt about tolerance

  1. Dear Kavi, both you and your father are very wise. If tolerance were everyone’s guiding light, there would be so much less war and death and hatred, so much more love and understanding.

    • Hi Naomi…absolutely…to live & let live sounds simple but it is apparently hard to practice in most cases around the world. I am grateful that God blessed us with wise Parents who gave us the freedom to follow our heart.

  2. ‘I have learnt that the world does not need more religion. What the world needs is more tolerance’ How very true Kavi!
    And I so admire your parents. Couldn’t have been easy in a society like ours!

    • Thanks so much Madhu, my Parents approach to our decision is rare for sure. I am so thankful that I have the freedom to follow my faith openly. It is sad to hear or read about people who go through so much anguish because they chose to do something similar & undergo trials in their own home, leave alone the community. I knew a girl many years ago, who was thrown out of home for leaving her religion & she had to camp in a Church member’s house for about a month…by which time they must have decided to take her back. Sigh…life can be simple, all we need is the ability to let another simply be 🙂

  3. Hey kavi…beautifully written :). I also now follow the practice of writing spiritual under the space for religion and encourage my kids to embrace the good from all religions. Btw I remember us singing “what a difference…” in the college choir wearing some hideous costumes!

    • Thanks so much Resh…great to know your writing too…to live n let live is the only way! BTW I love your description of our costumes…ouch & aaaargh 🙂

  4. Well written & well said Kavi, quoting you in your own words, “I have learnt that the world does not need more religion. What the world needs is more tolerance. An abundance of it. I have learnt that you have to show mutual tolerance & respect for people whose beliefs & faith may be different from yours. I have learnt that we have to live & let live. It is the only way to be happy”.

    Knowing your family and your beautiful parents for more than a decade now and having interacted with them…hats of to your lovely parents!!!

    God Bless you Kavi….Lee

  5. dear kavi so well written ,simply put but with a wealth of meaning in them.Tolerance is a rare quality these days,easier said than practised

  6. Why am i not surprised Kavi..I was and am a big fan of your dad and lovely mom as well!!I remember him always wanting you to be on the same level playing field as your brothers!!And when you say”i hail from Kerala-Hindu-Nair”….WOW!!A big shout out to your Dad!!

    To each our own!!

    • That’s so sweet Mamta….thanks a ton… I shalt pass on your kind thoughts to Dad n Mum ..they will be so happy 🙂 And yes was fortunate to have had the proverbial level playing field…by God’s grace 🙂

  7. Kavi … Uncle and aunty .. are a adorable lot !! I wonder what’s Uncle been through… to be a wise man like he is now. You are really blessed … to be their poetry of Life !!

  8. ALL praise,in every way shape and form is for God almighty-the ONE supreme ruler of the Universe.HE is behind all Good- let’s not make the mistake of believing the apparent to be Him.Jesus was used by God almighty to guide us.Let’s not believe the INSTRUMENT has the power.Jesus said “Indeed God almighty is my Lord and your Lord-worship Him alone,that is the right path”.May God almighty save us from Satan and guide us.Amen

    • Hi Tanveer, thanks for swinging by.You are entitled to your opinion for sure …we live in a free world fortunately & we have to accomodate multiple view points & not get lost in the narrow confines of rigidity & proving someone’s faith is ‘wrong’. Ironically my post is all about tolerance…not the lack thereof 🙂

  9. yeah thank God for such a broad minded dad … ..he put up with our preaching and enthusiasm as well thru the years … but ultimately we gotta walk the walk the talk more than talk the walk !!..some body said ” i am the way , the truth ,and the life ” and that got me . cheers to all ye seekers may ye all find the truth

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