Which part to Humanity? – The Ayodhya Verdict

Conflicts are the playground for creative thinking, relationship the spring of this creativity. To be in conflict is to disagree on goals or on choices and liberty the capacity of choosing – as Achilles said: the Gods are jealous of humans for they have no liberty; their eternal life does not give them the capacity to choose.

India watched as India chose, with the world interested to see how much India has grown in its harmonious multicultural identity. I watched the court choose on my behalf on the 30th of September – 1 part to each litigant. A part of me we pleased to see a somehow mature but easy-way-out judgment. A very politically correct one for which all conflict managers must be proud of – no violent conflict emerging out of the judgment. But in all this correctness, did we forget something we tend to always overlook? Did we forget that which binds us to conflict? Did we forget our relationship?

Conflict is not a negative word; conflict is a creative word. It sparkles that imagination which has the feet on ‘what is’ and the mind on what ‘can be’. It is a grounded on reality with wings on creativity and intuition… always looking for a new solution, a new concept or new idea – which are nothing more than new relationships, which we had not yet conceived.

There are three outcomes to a conflict: either we both loose, one wins and the other looses or a third more creative outcome – we both win. It has been seen that no violent conflict, either latent or open, has ever had a winner and a looser; ultimately both loose, just some at a lower degree than the other. If analyzed, can conflict really be capable of making all the players win? It somehow just feels like a logical contradiction… but luckily only till u see an Aristotelian worldview. Why should we get stuck with either ‘is’ or ‘is-not’, why can’t it be both… or ever more? It is in this pro-active approach of a mind that accepts contradicting views to create cooperative solutions, that the creative imagination blossoms, or as Laderach would call it: the moral imagination.

Only after a few hours of the Ayodhya verdict, top leader of the BJP, LK Advani, told the public “In so far as the judgment upholds the right of the Hindus to construct a temple, it is a significant step forward toward the construction of a grand temple of the birthplace of Lord Ram. The BJP believes this verdict opens a new chapter for national integration and a new era of inter-community relations”.

It is true; a new chapter for dialogue has opened but a chapter that is not built on the desire to see humanity win; on the contrary, a desire to the other a community loose silently – something that the judgment itself might not really be aware of. Not the foundation of a healthy and true reconciliation, but the brittle pillars of hidden unhappiness and inferiority. This is a very subtle and hidden message, which we might not be able to see, but it is the beginning of an un-realized non-cooperative and destructive energy. It is a low flame heating the water; a very dangerous situation and a potential catalyst to explosive open violence.

How can a judgment which is based on the presumption “the land belongs to Hindus, but since we are mature people and a mosque was built there (which we destroyed) we will be kind enough to the Muslim community to allow them a small place (in what should in reality be our land)” be a constructive judgment aiming at reconciliation?

India has grown from 1992, people and communities acted very maturely and a remarkable effort by the government was done to maintain peace. An important achievement, however we have not grown enough to see a horizontal view of religious identity and the unnecessary need of structures to identify with this identify. Forty-two lacs of rupees are spent every month for Varanasi’s Vishwanath temple, and for what? Just to prevent and manage the possibility of conflict. What is Ayodhya going to be? Probably another 80 lacs a month.

I have difficulties in accepting that the Ram I believe in would desire a temple on his birthplace that was, and can be, the cause communal violence and wastage of resources. He believed in the Dhrama of a person, a Dharma whose essence is the value of humanity – a part to which the court forgot to give the land to.

The past should not be forgotten. There ware ruins of a Hindu temple before the mosque was built. The mosque was then destroyed in 1992 and India saw it’s worst communal violence since independence. We cannot ignore the past, for it never fades away, it the very reason for our present situation. We should not ignore it or we destroy the future. The only decision we have in the moment we live is how we incorporate this past in us; and if this is done constructively with your mind and heart being aware, active and ready to mold the present… then anger, revenge, frustrations can be great source for change. A change not based on destroying the past, but on a healthier incorporation of the past. When we challenge our revenge, when we analyze our anger, when we understand our frustration… we turn from a passive view of life to an active way of living – the capacity of thinking creatively and pro-actively.

Religion is not the path for a rigid identity but the journey for spiritual trueness. To be religious is to have faith, but faith is not clinging – as Allen Watts says – for if it were clinging it would not be faith. I have faith that Ram was born in Ayodhya, I don’t need anything to grab to show this faith. This faith is my spiritual belief and not a structure. No structure can either increase or decrease my faith. Dialogue on the other hand is the tool to better explain and strengthen my faith. It is in comparison that we better understand; it is in comparison with other faiths that my faith becomes truer and stronger. A strong faith does not want to deny other faiths; on the contrary, it enjoys their company and dialogue… in the same way as we do with our friends. Friends don’t have the same belief and thought, but through dialogue and creative conflict both grow in their different belief and learn from each other. Religions are friends wanting to interact though spiritual integrity and faith.

I don’t want to formulate what the creative judgment in this context would be. The one given by the court has surely achieved an important milestone – it avoided open conflict. Was it a creative solution towards communal reconciliation? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. To have an answer to a problem is not the most important aspect of conflict. What is important is to have the desire and capacity to frame the question and to creatively try answering it. We have been given the capacity to choose, the liberty to create change. It is time we nurture our moral imagination, rediscover the aesthetics of creativity, the value of relationship, the trueness of faith, the humility of peace, the art of creative conflict and the courage to take transforming decisions. Let you creative imagination take wings, hear its whispers, what does it unfold?

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