How did a Protestant Christian schoolboy like myself in Pune, India
wake up to the 5:30 a.m. sounds of the Islam call to prayer at the Mosque
on his street, say 'Good Morning' in English to his Buddhist Jain neighbors
heading to their temple rituals, greet his Roman Catholic friends walking
away from Matins at the Catholic Church - facing the Mosque - even as
he heads off to start his school day with General Assembly, where boys
of all religions sing Anglican Church Hymns and recite Christian prayers ?
The answer, quite simply, is that I just did it without worrying if anyone's
daily Religious ritual was disturbing any of the folks in the area.
The piercing, amplified voice of the man making that call to prayer in
the Mosque, followed by the Church bell tolling for Mass, with the background
clanging of the Hindu temple bells adding to the rising cacophony of
A.M. Radio stations, Automobiles, Street vendors, dogs, etc. were just normal
everyday beginnings to our day. No big deal.
The Mosque was the first thing that I saw when I stepped out into the street.
If I turned my head left, there was St. Xavier's Church. Turn right, and there
was the shrine of Baba Jan, a tiny lady whose devotees from all faiths
nodded their heads in respect as they hurried past each day.....all free to
openly pray to the God of their faith, on my street, whenever they chose.
That's what India has always been like and still is, for the most part - willing
to put aside religious differences and live peacefully and respectfully alongside
Pune Travel Guide
But that was Pune, India and I was a mere schoolboy. Now, as the sun sets in
Houston, Texas I am a man reflecting on how different things are in America
for people of various beliefs, attitudes and feelings toward their surroundings.
Americans come in all stripes and colors, and from every nation under the sun.
They follow - or don't - whatever or whomever they choose to. The difference
here is that there are those who wish to neither see nor hear nor have anything
to do with anyone they believe doesn't belong 'in their own backyard'.
That willingness to just live and let live, to just get along with others regardless
of Race, Religion or skin color always seems to come at the cost of divided feelings,
open anger and outrage. The efforts to create a mixed society are there, and there
is definitely improvement in that arena. But the earliest primal instincts, that of
the all-powerful land-owner/ruler are ever-present, and at the root of most
discordant situations. Below are two current instances where Religion, Politics and
remedies are at the forefront.
The Way of the (Controversial) Cross
Everything's bigger in Texas, like my Flickr capture of a huge Cross that
made many area residents 'cross' when the Sagemont Church opened.
One year later, the Cross still dwarfs everything for miles around, and rightly so -
it's as tall as the Empire State Building !
See what all the fuss was about here
Elsewhere, in the city of La Marque, in Galveston County, Texas :
' Masjid Al-Fattah will become the first
permanent mosque in the county’s mainland.
There are no large domes or
minarets to embellish this mosque, a gray metal building
surrounded by a
cyclone fence. '
La Marque is where I got lost while driving one day, and my hesitant driving prompted
a Patrolman in a squad car to follow me closely all the way back to the freeway.
I obviously didn't belong in his town.......and I didn't want to. This place is part of the
Bible Belt defined. And yet one of their long-time residents, Abdul-Rahman
president of the
Islamic League of America, is the one who got the go-ahead for
construction of this Mosque. I think that is beyond admirable, both on the part of the city
and the modest Mr. Salahuddin, who expects the mosque to be ready n three weeks.
Read the story :
Stay tuned and love your neighbor........