April 07, 2012

Brotherhood of Men

I had once came across a principle whose progenitor now I could not remember so well. Such principle is actually a theory upon an aspect of man’s purpose here on Earth. It declares that all men were meant to be different from each other so that they may understand each other all the more. It elucidated quite explicitly the reason why some of us are white and some of us are black. There are some of us who are Caucasians and then there are the Malays, the Africans, the Yellow Race and many others. We even speak in variant languages and dialects, to the most evolved tongue and to the crudest ones. Just the same that we are all separated into many cultures aside from the major division of being Western and Eastern. Just also as we have diverse geographical conditions obtaining, from the jungles of South America to the desert of the Sahara. In my own meanderings, I reckoned also that there is a major reason or cause for these differences that is, in order for us to ponder upon these differences and inquire upon them the more, gaining answers to many questions and therefore promotes more understanding among us. There is synergy in diversity, the wise men say.

 At a glance, the principle above spoken seem to be ridiculous and absurd.  Is it not that wars and conflicts of the world are mostly premised upon the differences of men? The whites against the blacks? The Jews against the Arabs? The Yellow Race looking down on Malays? Malays distrusting the Yellow Race? The Christians against the Muslims? English against Irish? The Socialist against the Liberals? 

Upon further thought, the principle on the differences of men above spoken has certain form of credibility. Let us for example imagine a world where everyone else is Caucasian living in the same culture and having the same language, breathing in the same environmental conditions. When all the lands having been conquered and peopled, what would be left then to urge a person to visit and see other places when everything outside is the same as the home country? Even with some differences attending, still many would have no motive to travel and reach out to others except for the usual reasons of pursuing business and visiting family relations.

Without the uniqueness silk, the Chinese people would have no motive to travel half the world away to sell it, as well as to the Europeans who would have had no desire to staged major expeditions to China to buy silk and porcelain. Now, could we imagine with the same practicality Americans inventing or creating porcelain? The making of porcelain is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture, without that culture, there would be no porcelain but jars of clay. If the land in Europe produced spices in abundance, Ferdinand Magellan would not have been able to circumvent the world, upon the purpose of finding the Spice Island. Alexandria of the Old World was a haven of scholars that people of all races traveled to that place to earn their education. If the same education were everywhere at that time, there would be no traveling of such great number of people.

The uniqueness of each land and culture are the things that pushed men in the past to spread out and explore. If without the differences in geography, climate and environment, mankind would have not reached the level of understanding as we have today, where economy had become so global that barriers have become invisible and communication happens with just a click of the button anywhere in the world.

It was for the fervent travels made by our ancestors in the past that we have now achieved greater understanding of the Chinese man, of the American, of the Italian and of the African---what food they eat, their temperaments, and the clothes they wear. We have become familiar with the music others play and the many dances they do. We have become wary of the things we could do and the things we could not do while we are in their country. They say, when in Rome, do what the Romans do. But how could we ever know what the Romans do if men did not travel as much as they did in the past and until today?

A wandering man reaches places and discovers the unknown. A motionless people remain trapped in the past.

And why would men travel vigorously if everywhere there were silk and porcelain? If every nation or country has the same kind of produce, environment and culture, if variety does not take place, men would rather stay home than roam.

Nowadays, those who travel the world are tourists and businessmen. Why would one be a tourist today if everywhere there were beaches and Buddhist temples and pyramids? Why would one travel the world and make business contacts across the continents if everywhere there are microchips or mangoes?

If I were born Caucasian, with bristled blond hair and skin pale as the cloud, I would not mind so much a white man walking our local streets for I will find no new things in him. But because I am of the Malay Race, I would be a little more interested in him if he materializes in my presence. I would probably ask his country of birth and the concerns he has in life, the things he does for his daily bread. With some probability, he would more or less ask for my name also, the place where I reside and the things I do everyday. And possibly, he could become my friend and perhaps offers me opportunities in his land of milk and honey. We could not say what opportunities that might come our way through meeting other people from some faraway land. Or perhaps I could assist him in finding the best antiques in town and we could go to our house for dinner after that. There are many stories like that. The basic difference in the way a man look brings people closer and gives forth more understanding among them.

In the old times, an ancestor of ours might have asked why a Spaniard’s hair was blond, his skin pale and his tongue queer. Or an Italian coming in peace may have asked if gold was abundant here for he has some fine leather shoes in his baggage that may be of interest to the natives.

Let us imagine also if we all have the same faith and religion. To what form of belief would my faith differ from if there were no other religion but my religion? To what other form of belief would I compare my faith from if there were no other faith but mine? How could I say the color purple is the finest if there is none other shade existing but purple? How would I value and accept my faith the more if I do not have a point of comparison? 

The matter of faith is of course not a matter of comparison but a matter of truth. But if man is indeed a little vain by nature---where man is an imperfect creation---then man would always look at their possession and belief in contrast to others. Why would I gleefully wear my leather shoes made of fine Italian craftsmanship if all others wear the same?  How do I see my faith in comparison to others? That is man, imperfect and tainted with vanity. Do we still argue on this point? If we say men should not be vain, then we are imagining a different creature. It is not altogether proper to say that men hold their faith in vanity, but it would do them good to appreciate their own faith in contrast to others, to hold it so dearly and then to follow its edict so diligently.

In order to see white, we must also see black. The diversity of man’s faith is to see white from black without saying that either black or white is the more enlightened.

Let us walk further into these meanderings. If we wish that all men should be Christians or Muslims all, then it should be upon the premise that we all are of the same race and culture, and that would be impracticality of nature and of circumstance. Even if such spiritual utopia is possible, it would take humanity thousands of years of struggle and strife to achieve such peak level of unity in spiritual mind and purpose.

A Jew like Jesus Christ, the Son of God, may have walked the hills and valleys of China yet he would not have been as acceptable and as effective. If he had walked in the land of Arabs, he would have been in the most precarious position. Imagine if Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon Him) walked the lands of the Jews or Hindus, he would not have had much impact or enough ground to take off.  If Buddha walked the streets of England, he would have been relegated to the status of a minor spiritualist, an inconsequential oriental spiritual master.

In the olden times, perhaps until now, to teach the Chinese people about faith, a preacher must be a also china man in order for education to be full and fruitful, moving within the structure of the Chinese culture. For the matter of faith is fragile when culture clashes, and in fact blood are often spilt as it had been in the past, where men in great number died for and in behalf of religion.

Today, an American preacher may teach the words of God to his Chinese followers and may have some success, as humanity today has grown mature. In the olden times, this is a highly impractical task.

Now, is there one true religion? The answer to this inquiry is highly debatable, ever since and up to now, where no particular religion could claim the truth upon incontrovertible facts.   They may present all the thesis and hypothesis, invoking even all the historical fossil and yet not one sect could come up with conclusions beyond reasonable doubt, that the argument may take the debaters through hundred days and hundred nights of professing and arguing, to somnambulate with passion, to be so wise in words and actuations, and yet the clash of ideas and principles would not meet a delta of unity, at least a conclusive unity. The debate may not end but there is a premise where all could concur, a premise that declares that even before the word “Catholic” or “Islam” was invented, there is already Him, the Creator of All Things. Is God a follower of Muhammad or of Buddha? Certainly not-- He is the One to be followed and not the One to follow.

And when every religion speaks of good against evil, why should we then squander our mind upon the inconsequential differences?  When every religion preaches the belief in a Greater Being as the Father of All Things, at which point or significant matter do we really differ? Is the Caucasian a lesser man just because he has blond hair and not black as Asians have? Is the African becomes a lesser man just because he has darker skin? Is rice a lesser food just because it does not grow from underground like potatoes does? Is the language Filipino becomes a false language just because it is not as widely used as English?

Do I become a false human being just because I am a Filipino or a Jew or an Arab or an American?

When men have been created differently from each other, born in different civilizations and culture, is it for us to expect that we all have the same religion? Is it for all of us to expect that we all eat rice or drink tea on a sunlit afternoon?

My blood brother does not look like me nor talk like me. He does not act like me or believe the things that I believed and yet he is my brother. My brother is not like me and yet he is my brother.

I may eat some other kind of food and speak a different tongue but you could not say I am a false human being. You like to sing popular music while I hum lullabies in the stillness of the night yet that does not make me a false man. You eat with chopsticks while I eat with spoon and fork and yet you could not say I am a false human being.

Religions are the embodiment of ethics that leads us all towards the good and away from evil and they become an important aspect of our humanity. Religion purifies us and structures our faith within the confines of disciplines in order that we may not go astray. We are like the water siphoned-off of the many impurities it carries and religion is the mesh that cleanses this water.

Religion must not lead us towards violence, prejudice and contempt. It is only to evil things and to evil men that we should be prejudicial and contemptuous.

There must be a “brotherhood of man” in order for us to diffuse widespread violence and contempt among men today. We must accept others as brothers and sisters without regards for race and geography, and most importantly, without regards to faith. The diversity of humanity is something that we should accept as a mechanism for unity, and not a cause for quarrel, for in diversity there is synergy.

Diversity in the world has its purpose for without it, this world would not turn and revolve, as it turns and revolve for us now, in order to create and recreate the truest meaning of life and the potentialities of mankind are exhausted. For no matter the mass of norms and standards that had been laid upon our consciousness and no matter how we accept them as part of our reality, there is always something out there for us to search and wonder upon, that if it reaches the point where a man loses his sense of wonderment, it is the time that he loses the true meaning of life.

Would you want to eat the same viand over and over again? Would you rather see and visit the same places over and over again?

In the concept of the real “brotherhood of man”, the key towards lasting peace and harmony in this world, as the Creator had desired it to be, is acceptance and understanding of the differences of man. To be different is to be interesting. To be different is to understand others.