Friday, September 13, 2013

"Why can't we be friends?"

Seeking to understand

     As long as I can remember I have been advised to avoid the following two topics in casual conversation: Religion and politics. However, it seems that those conversations are always the most spicy! I learn so much about somebody by discussing social or spiritual views with them, and not only that, but I end up learning about myself by articulating my beliefs.

    Upon arrival, I met a nice young man named John. He's about my age, a philosophy major, likes to sing n' play guitar, and he practices Christianity. John eventually introduced me to a kind and courteous gentleman named Mahmoud, a Ph.D. student from Gaza studying linguistics who happens to practice Islam. The three of us shared many evenings drinking tea and going for walks. It wasn't long before curiosity about each other's spiritual and religious beliefs began to dominate our regular subject matter.

    As you may or may not know Christianity and Islam share many similarities as well as glaring differences, and the debate over which one is the most pure religion is an age old quarrel. Despite my efforts to neutralize this endless debate, these two crazy kids would carry on citing scriptures, sharing videos and having lengthy discussions. I began to have a genuine interest in the flow of their dialogue.

   When asked to share my views, I found that I was smack-dab in between the two. I believe that everyone, whether religious, secular, sacred or profane, has something to teach. I believe that God/Supreme consciousness/ Source energy /Allah/ the Universe has chosen to manifest itself in many forms such as people like you and me, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Rumi and Mohammad etc. as well as nature itself; the starts, planets and all of the cosmos. Some refer to this as Pantheism (seeing Everything as God). Although, this often does not always satisfy those who inquire because I have effectively avoided selecting one box with which to place my spiritual understanding, instead I identify with the path of modern Shamanism.

        The dialogue continues with myself acting as somewhat of a mediator between the two, until one day a challenge is posed. Mahmoud asks John to present written evidence that the Bible is the "true word of God". Upon hearing this I couldn't help but roll my eyes, "When will it end?!" I asked. However, after reading John's statement and Mahmoud's response, I am actual quite glad that I have been caught up in the middle of this friendly dispute.

       Some would say that in the U.S Muslims are often perceived to be a dangerous people, filled with evil intentions and such. Since my arrival in India, I have met many Muslims, and each one has been very polite, humble and peaceful; not at all terrifying. The unnecessary Islamaphobia portrayed by the media has actual stirred up quite a bit of interest and curiosity among Western minds. For those of you who are interested to read the written exchange between John and Mahmoud, I have attached their documents.

       PLEASE feel free to comment and share your opinions either on this blog, in a facebook post, or personally with me in an email. I am also quite certain that either of these gentlemen would be happy to elaborate on their views and share more information. WE are ALL brothers and sisters, and the more we see each other as such, the closer we get to realizing world peace. Believe in Peace.

Nathan King

Bible Proof - John

In response to John - Mahmoud

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Don't doubt the fact there's life within you."


           In 2004, the Indian subcontinent was hit by a tsunami. The indigenous tribes living on the islands and coast decided to travel to the hills and mountains several days before the tsunami hit. Anthropologists report that the tribal people knew the storm was coming because they noticed a change in the flight patterns of the birds around them. Indian military personnel, fisherman and other people living on the coast died, yet the tribes were left unscathed.

        Development. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. While studying applied anthropology and tribal welfare, it has become apparent just how difficult it is to determine what is and is not a tribe. The level of assimilation into "civilized" society is a major determining factor. Yet what is compromised by this assimilation? Is it possible to introduce Wi-fi and Snuggies to tribal communities, while retaining their essence of identity? For that matter, how much intervention do these communities even want from modern society?

        The University of Hyderabad is located outside of the city, and the campus is filled with thick jungle, huge boulder fields and beautiful wildlife. A midst this serene scene are a multitude of fifty story condos, massive malls and shopping centers, and there is no sign of stopping as more and more buildings are erected each day. Much of this development, I'm told, has happened only within the last ten or fifteen years. This is all well and good, however, one has to wonder how much attention and care is being brought to the villages and tribal communities.

         Consider again our clever tsunami dodging tribal sisters and brothers. Is it right to consider them primitive, backwards and less knowledgeable? Sure, they may not be able to speak English or update their Facebook statuses, but when you consider things like food sovereignty and self sustainability they begin to appear quite knowledgeable. What will happen if the food truck drivers suddenly decide not to deliver to your local grocery? Or if water doesn't come out of your faucet? What if the power sudden goes out indefinitely, or the petrol pump is bone dry. Maybe there are some things us "civilized" folk can learn from our tribal friends. Thoughts?

Much love to all,
N8KING (gRaNoLa BeAr)