No more hate
No more hate
by Mari Marcel Thekaekara
Tea: an English tradition that began in another country (Gordon Joly, under a CC License)
Tea and understanding has worked well for a long time. In India as well as in Britain. But the best example was in the York mosque, when they got the English Defence League (EDL) supporters to ‘come in for a cup of tea’. I loved it. This shows that anything is possible. And that we should all stop stereotyping people.
Not many people think of creative solutions. I know I don’t. I tried to imagine what I, as a minority, would do if I had a not very friendly visit from an angry group of people. I’d be really scared I’m sure. So I think the person who had the idea of giving them all tea and biscuits and playing a game of football afterwards is a genius.
I also read an article which about a wise York Muslim leader saying something like: ‘Tea is the most traditional English custom you can think of. But it came to you from China!’ I was amazed, even though this is a well-known fact. And it makes us all think.
The Indian middle classes all drink tea at four o’ clock, the ‘chai’ they love. We started that tradition during the two hundred years of the British Raj. Anglophiles (Indians who love England) have a biscuit or piece of cake with their four o’ clock chai, but most average Indians eat a hot samosa, a couple of 'bujjis' (not bhaaji, which is just a vegetable curry, not the crispy snack!) or a hot 'vada' in South India.
Chai can bring comfort, but there are definitely other lessons we can learn from this. After the Mumbai Hindu-Muslim riots in 1993, many NGOs and peace groups made links between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains. They marched from house to house, area to area saying ‘Never Again’ . They asked people, ‘Do you want your children and future generations to see another terrible killing like that? Or to live in peace?’ Everyone saw how passionately they believed this. Helen Joseph, a well loved social work professor, remembers the hard work of the movement for everyone to live together in peace.
She and her students worked on campaigns, slogans, posters, plays. They went all around the poor areas of Mumbai and fought for peace. And at the same time, there was another campaign of hate all over India, telling Hindus to get the minorities out of Mumbai, and out of India. Supporters of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalists) were saying send Muslims back to Pakistan and Christians to Rome. The same groups attacked poor groups in south Indian in the sixties, and Biharis more recently. They spread poisonous hate against ‘the other’. But Hinduism has been a much more tolerant religion than Christianity or Islam.
So another thing we must learn is that minority groups should also respect the feelings of the majority. I plan to write about this for an Indian newspaper. But for Britain, I would say, it’s wonderful that peaceful groups came out to prevent hate crimes last Saturday. But the same groups should keep watching the places where minority leaders are filling young people with hate and saying God wants violence. It’s time for everyone, including Muslims, to get rid of the terrorists and people who hate. This will work better than words to convince the majority. And to make the world a safer place for their children.