GANDHI AND COMMUNAL PROBLEMS > Achievement of Communal Unity
Achievement of Communal Unity
BEFORE THIS UNITY becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal and will have to make radical changes in ideas held heretofore.
As with Hindus, so with Musalmans. The leaders among the latter should meet together and consider their duty towards Hindus. When both are inspired by a spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long-standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the otherís religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both the communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavor in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.
Mutual tolerance is a necessity for all times and for all races. We cannot live in peace if the Hindus will not tolerate the Mohammedan form of worship of God and his manners and customs, or if the Mohammedan will be impatient of Hindu idolatry or cow-worship. It is not necessary for toleration that I must approve of what I tolerate all these in Hindus, Mohammedans and Christians even as I expect them to tolerate my abstinence from all these although they may dislike it. All the quarrels between the Hindus and Mohammedans have arisen from each wanting to force the other to his view.
The cow is as dear as life to a Hindu. The Musalman should, therefore, voluntarily accommodate his Hindu brother. Silence at his prayer is a precious thing for a Musalman. Every Hindu should voluntarily respect his Musalman brotherís sentiment. This, however, is a counsel of perfection.
Clarity towards Opponents
The unity we desire will last only if we cultivate a yielding and a charitable disposition towards one another.
Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side. We shut the doors of reason when we refuse to listen to our opponents or, having listened, make fun of them. If intolerance becomes a habit, we run the risk of missing the truth. Whilst with the limits that nature has put upon our understanding, we must act fearlessly according to the right vouchsafed to us, we must always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to the truth was, after all, untruth. This openness of mind strengthens the truth in us and removes the dross from it, if there is any.
Those do not like things do not coincide with their notions need not patronize them but it is ungentlemanly to behave like less that men when things are not to their taste.
Let me not told, as I have often been, that it is all due to the misdeeds of the Muslim league. Assuming the truth of the remark, is our toleration made of such poor stuff that it must yield under some uncommon strain? Decency and toleration to be of value must be capable of standing the severest strain. If they cannot, it will be a sad day for India. Let us not make it easy for our critics (we have many) to say that we did not deserve liberty. Many arguments come to my mind in answer to such critics. But they give poor comfort. It hurts my pride as a lover of India of the teeming millions, that our tolerant and combined culture should not be self-evident.
When Hindu or a Musalman does evil, it is evil done by an Indian to an Indian, and each one of us must personally share the blame and try to remove the evil. There is no other meaning to unity than this Nationalism is nothing if it is not at least this. Nationalism is greater than sectarianism. And in that sense, we are Indians first and Hindus, Musalmans, Parsis and Christians after.
We should deplore the fact that one Indian does not see the obvious wrong that tour other brethren have done. There is no unity, if we must continuously look at things communally.
Critics may say, ĎAll this is sheer nonsense, because it is so inconsistent with facts. It is visionary.í But my contention is that we shall never achieve solidarity unless new facts are made to suit the principle instead of performing the impossible feat of changing the principle to suit existing facts.