Most of the world’s worst atrocities on mankind stem from an intolerance of other people’s way of life.

In our familiar customs, we struggle to accept different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, class, opinions and more.

Our convictions lead to conflict.

If we were less stringent about our beliefs, and willing to respect our neighbours’ viewpoints as their own, we would be better off. There’d be harmony.

We blindly hang on to our beliefs as if we have the blueprint to life.

We don’t.

As intelligent and innovative as we are, we’re oblivious to most of the fundamentals that make us who we are.

We can’t fathom the inner workings of the human body in its entirety. Neurosurgeons, with all their theory of neurons and synaptic plasticity, can’t grasp the complexities of the human brain.

Nobody knows why or how our planet orbits around the sun in three hundred and sixty-five days while in a twenty-four hour spin. These phenomena affect us all day, every day, yet we cannot explain them. We fight, bicker and lie about who created it all, when, and for what reason.

We’re quick to impose our beliefs as facts, yet we aren’t sure.

We know that we don’t know. We’re aware of this oblivion, but we roam around proudly like we know better than our spouses, our kids, our lovers, our friends, our colleagues, our associates, other races, other religions and generally those who act differently than us.

We ought to be comfortable with the notion that we will never know it all. There are trillions of galaxies in outer space, actively performing their functions. There are trillions of cells in our bodies, actively performing their functions. We don’t have the mental capacity to grasp it all, and that’s okay.

We should rather focus on what matters most: kindness, compassion, selflessness.

If we were compassionate about other people’s viewpoints, without imposing our own, which are often false regurgitated teachings from past generations, we’d be better off.

We have no proven success formulas for marriage, raising kids, sustaining genuine happiness, connecting with the creator of the universe, building wealth, building true friendships, creating stunning art, staying healthy, etc … We’re able to learn the patterns, teach and advise on these subjects, but we have no guaranteed formulas. The answers remain open-ended.

We shouldn’t chastise those who behave or believe differently than us. We’re all just trying to figure it out.

The irony is that we’re all taught to love. Our teachers, parents and spiritual leaders teach us that honourable people are those who care for others. Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindi scriptures emphasise how important it is to be kind, loving and concerned about others — to live peacefully and give without expecting anything in return. The teaching is repeated over and over, in all of our doctrines; yet we turn a blind eye to it and force people to follow our path — usually to exploit them somehow.  I’m right! You’re wrong! Let me show you the truth, we say.

We are fiercely divided because of our beliefs and convictions, and our reluctance to accept other people’s way of life.

In our clear and blatant oblivion, we’re certain that we know better than the next person.

This kind of thinking creates war.

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Lukhanyo Sikwebu

Lukhanyo Sikwebu is an author and film director. His second novel, Nine Hours, was published nationwide by NB Publishers/Kwela Books in September 2021

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