Another interesting day at the university was about to start. I fetched coffee from my favourite coffee stall. Everyday a group of females would gather at the only table available at this stall to gossip. I was cursing them silently for blocking my way to the sugar and spoons which was at the centre of the table. After exchanging some formal smiles and excuse-me’s, I managed to get all i wanted . I was just looking forward to my daily ritual…sitting in the garden in front of the university and enjoy a quite coffee while watching the city zoom away past me.
My peaceful ritual was interrupted by a very polite ‘Do you have a few minutes for me…?’ request. It was someone i didn’t know. He looked as if he had got up from his bed just 5 minutes ago and had come straight to me. The only thing pleasant about him was the polite smile he had. His request sounded like the first-liner of a salesman. My first impulse was to pull the ‘Oh i don’t speak German’ gig. but then my curiosity got the best of me.
He wanted to know whether i was a Believer. Another one of those….I thought. I had met so many of these ‘followers of Christ’ who were trying to get you into their ‘Community’ of believers. I find it bad enough that the society is divided into different religious groups and now people were trying to divide a religion even further. I didn’t have the patience to deal with the guy. I just told him that I wasn’t a believer. He was visibly disappointed and inquired about my reasons for not believing in. I was glad that I had once argued and defended my belief in my God with a certain atheist friend of mine; i had enough arguments to throw at him.
I started by asking him about what he thought of Pope’s latest speech in Africa. His opinion about safe sex and family planning. This dude tried to sell me the ‘deeper meaning’ in the Pope’s message. According to him the Pope only wanted to emphasize the importance of loyalty in a relationship and the meaningless of pre-marital sex. I asked him whether he really thought that ‘…using condoms is a sin…’ had a deeper, less obvious meaning to it. I asked him if he really thought that making kids and simply saying ‘God will look after them…’ is sensible. ‘German badly needs children…’, he said. But I asked him to consider countries like India or even Africa where resources are limited. He didn’t have an answer to that. He gave me a long look, sighed, wished me good day and left me with my now cold cup of coffee.
I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. I had felt like an atheist at some level. I felt guilty for having said that i wasn’t a believer. But i just didn’t want to my waste time on ‘believers’ like him: people who believe more in the number of followers than what/who they all follow.
what is religion? Is it going regularly to church or temple or mosque and folding hands in front of statue and meditating? How many of you people go to pray because you really want to and not because you’ve been brought up so or because not doing it would be a sin? Is it more important to pray and preach than practise? Isn’t it more important to become a good human first? Why aren’t there people who go around asking ‘what good deed did you do today…’?
There are saints in all the religions in this world. What is the one thing they have in common? No, it’s not the total devotion to one supreme power. It’s serving God’s children. Humanity is biggest religion. It forms the core of every religion. And the God of Humanity lives in each one of us.