By Samra (admin)
God loveth those who are kind. – The Table Spread 5:13 (Quran)
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (Bible)
“Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.” -Leviticus (Torah)
Remember when we were all babies and loved being held by our moms? We felt safe and secure in our homes, knowing mama was right there cooking dinner, while we crawled or rode our little tricycle around the house. If we were at an event, someone always asked our moms, “Aww…she’s so cute. Can I hold her?” And when she was about to pass you over to that stranger, you would scream, cry, and cling to your mom, and she would just hold you until you felt happy and safe again. You didn’t ever have to leave her, and if mom ever tried, you would have tantrums until she held and comforted you.
But then, when you turned four or five, a strange, scary thing happened. Your mom got you dressed up extra nice, handed you a really cute backpack with your favourite cartoon character on it, and before you knew it, you stood in front of a huge building you had never seen before. You latched on to mom, and begged her to take you back home. Tears came gushing out, and you dragged your feet or maybe even went limp as mom pulled you inside the building, all the while telling you, “It’s okay! Stop crying! You have to go to school now…you’re a big girl.” You didn’t care for what she had to say because this new place, this big, scary building was taking your mom away from you. You didn’t realize that day that in no way was school taking your mom away from you, but was actually adding richness to your life by giving you opportunity to socialize, learn new concepts, and grow into a good citizen.
And then, something else happened. As you reluctantly walked to the open door of your first classroom, a stranger said hello to you and pointed to the treasure of toys lining one side of the room. Instantly, your eyes lit up. Holding on to mom’s hand, you walked over to the toys, but soon after, you let go and with a big smile on your face, you grabbed toys and began playing with them. There were dolls, toy cars and trains, a sand table, buckets full of blocks, and even a little kitchenette. Before you knew it, you were hopping from one play area to another, and you thought to yourself, “This isn’t that scary…it’s very much like home.”
The kindergarten teachers know starting school can be a very stressful and turbulent experience for many children, as often they have never been away from their parents and homes before that September. So being smart, they make sure to furnish the classroom with a large variety of colourful toys and ample play time to get the children accustomed to school. Their purpose isn’t to fool the children, but to make them comfortable by making classroom environment and routines similar to the ones they are used to at home.
If we take this kindergarten strategy, and apply it to familiarizing others about our faith, it can produce similar results. After all, human nature remains pretty much the same throughout life: we all feel threatened by change and differences at some level, and we all need the comfort of the familiar. The mistake most faithful make when they encounter those from a different tradition, is that they jump right into sharing concepts that are alien and obscure to others, which usually ends up scaring most people because it’s too different from “home.” Just like the kindergarten teachers, we need to accept the fact that most people first need to be made thoroughly comfortable with familiar ideas and practices before we can begin talking about what is foreign to that person.
So let’s be smart people, and use the kindergarten strategy when we meet each other. Just like the kindergarten teachers fill the room with familiar toys and routines, when we first meet each other, we should fill our conversations with familiar words and concepts. Again, your intention should never be to trick or fool the other, but to only make them comfortable in engaging with you and others who follow your faith. This way, we are more likely to get along, produce much less fear in each other, and as a result, people are more likely to be more curious and open with us down the road. And remember, just like the child going to kindergarten never ever loses his mother nor home; in the same way, the faithful in open dialogue with each other never ever diminish their own tradition nor faith. We can only gain God’s approval from being compassionate towards each other.