This is my last semester of university. Well, at least the last for my undergraduate. I am completing my final assignment or also known as thesis. No more classes, just the six-credit thesis. But. This has been the busiest semester of all the four and a half years of university life. It’s all because I am also doing two other “extra” stuffs that are as big as it can get. Well, at least for me.
One of the two big extras is this project that I’m doing is called CINTAindonesia.
This is like the biggest project that I’ve ever handled so far. That’s why I’m so freaking nervous like almost every single day of my life now. What if I screw up? What if everything doesn’t go according to plan? What if? What if? What if?
At the same time, I am also very excited. I’m excited because of what I want to achieve through this project. The ultimate goal of this project is to convey the message of tolerance to people who will participate in the program. That’s what I want to achieve. That sounds simple, but I realize that it’s not easy. Some people even may be skeptical about the cause that I’m in. But I decided to do it anyway.
But, why would I do it if I know it’s difficult? To be honest, I’m an idealistic person. Some people may think that I am a pragmatist, but deep down I’m always this idealistic young girl.
Crazy right. I mean, who, in this world, still believes in idealism?
You know I had a chance to learn, even though just a little bit, about several different religious teachings, and I learned that religion is one way, through which, people try to find peace for themselves. Be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’i, and other religions in the world. If so, then why would people fight in the name of religion?
I don’t know the perfect answer for that. But I think I can tell you this: because they don’t understand each other. They don’t understand each other, because a lot of times, they “close the door” for understanding even before they know what is behind the door. What happen are suspicion, fear, and prejudice towards differences. They don’t know if they just open the door and try to understand, they will find that there’s more similarity than difference between them.
I opened the door. And I’m glad I did. Because I learned many many many wonderful things that completely changed my perception towards differences.
Like I learned about how Muhammad was kind to Christians and even promised to protect them, as I quote from this article
“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.”
God knows how wonderful I felt when I found out about this.
I also learned to realize one thing that I actually have known for a long time, that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are praying to same God: the God of Abraham.
I met and learned from a Hindu religious leader who has drawing in his face and asked what it means, and he said that it is a symbol of the sacredness of your body. He said that the body is a holy temple and we should respect it. It did ring a bell for me as a Christian, because I know a verse in the bible that says the same thing:
1 Corinthians 6:19. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. (NIV)
I went to a Buddhist temple and learned about the “Noble Eightfold Path”, which I perceives as the way of living. It says that we have to have the right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. Well, don’t we all want to live in all those righteousness? Christianity teaches them, Islam teaches them, Buddhism teaches them, everybody teaches them.
Then, I went to a synagogue. A synagogue is the place of worship for Jewish people. And I found my self so comfortable being inside their worship place, joining in their worship time in Sabbath day, singing their worship songs, it felt just like being in a church!
I had the privilege to stay in a home of Gity and Bijan, wife and husband, who are Baha’is. That was the first time ever I heard about Baha’i Faith and learned about this religion. And I am just fascinated about the teachings of this religion. Baha’i emphasizes of the unity of all humans, all religions. They believe in Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and others as the messengers of one God. And the one thing that really take my intention is their belief in the equality of men and women. I had a chat with Bijan, who is the husband, and he said that when you empower women and let them involve more in the governments or in many aspects of the world, there will be no war, because no woman would ever let her children fight and die in a war. I felt like the luckiest person in world to have that chance to get to know them.
If people just know these things. If they know how much similarities they have with each other, I’m sure they will realize how stupid it is to keep fighting with each other.
Those are just a small portion of the lessons that I learned, because I opened the door to understanding. See how many similarities I found rather than differences. I can not tell you how beautiful it is to embrace those differences and how precious it is to learn about those differences.
Through this project, I hope that people will want to “open the door” too, and see the beauty of tolerance.
Okay. It’s been a long post. I need to get back to doing my thesis.
PS: If you’re interested in “opening the door”, learn more about this project in our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/committeeforinterfaithtoleranceindonesia or our twitter: https://twitter.com/CINTAinterfaith