MY old house is going through much needed repairs and quite a mess, as workers move in and out and the already polluted air is extra laden with cement particles. Not the easiest living for anybody, and more so for a writer who expects peace and comfort all the time. Yes, I’m making excuses for my awful behaviour to get away with all and sundry transgressions during this time!
But this morning the chief mason spoke to me, and spoke of a site which he had completed a few years ago. He did not speak of his skill or dexterity with his tools, or the work he had completed but spoke at length of how the customer had treated him and all the other workers. “I will never forget him,” said the mason, and did I see tears in his eyes, tough man though he is, “That man used to call me Ramchanderji!”
I looked at my feet. I knew how I addressed him, during these stressful days. “He used to feed all of us,” said Ramchanderji, “And though he worshipped a different God, I saw God in him!” I felt sad and ashamed as I moved back to my room, because I knew he had not seen any God in me!
Very often I see movies which portray America over a hundred years ago, and quite often there is a church scene, with the congregation singing hymns with joy and fervour. But even as I listen, I know from history how America treated the African-Americans during that time. Many of the blacks changed their religion and embraced ones that would give them acceptance, including Cassius Clay, who became the legendary Mohamud Ali.
Which brings me to the question; one, I’m asking myself today, “Are we good representatives of our God?” As I watch political leaders making use of religion to divide their citizens, is it possible for each of us to ask the same question, “Am I a good representative of my God?” Does my God allow me to hate my neighbour? What does my neighbour think of my religion as he sees me looking at him with hate in my eyes?
I think of the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ where two thousand years ago, a Holy man told his followers that the neighbour we are supposed to love, is someone from a different belief. Are we doing that? I am troubled today as I hear the sounds of cement hitting my ceiling in the room where the men are working. They are not going to remember how well they made my home, or even if I was fair in their wages, but only how I treated them. I know I have been a poor representative of God. What about you?