A Photograph

Graffiti and walking man

Tolerance is the reason why a photo like this can exist. A religious building and street art can coexist in one composition because the social context from where the image was taken allows it. Imagine a supra-religio-authoritarian world where everything “blasphemous” is removed, burned, destroyed, bulldozed, and everything the eye can see are just churches and religious relics. In that world, I could have never taken this photo. Conversely, imagine if the world was taken over by punks and every concrete known by man was painted with graffiti. In that world, it would be criminal to build churches, to practice religion, to be devoted to a belief. This photo would have never existed there. I wake up every day feeling grateful for the fact that I live in a pluralistic world, filled with people of different backgrounds and belief systems, counterbalancing each other when one group forces their opinions on another, preventing the rise of a single world order or a single global religion. I was able to compose the image above because I could. I live gratefully but also vigilant that this world could vanish any minute as power converges only to a few and beliefs are normalized not because they are based on facts but because they are espoused by a powerful majority that listens to “the experts.”

A Thought

We need brave spaces.

Because I believe in Pluralism, I believe in a world where everyone could practice their beliefs but still coexist with each other. For coexistence to happen, entities within this plural society will have to tell each other if some of their behavior is undermining their freedom. This is what constitutes a Brave space. One can be in a space where one feels safe and secure but is unable to voice out a contrarian opinion. This is faux security. A true safe space is a brave space, where one is allowed and encouraged to express disagreement if necessary.

A Quote

Convincing someone to change their mind is really the process of convincing someone to change their tribe. If they abandon their beliefs, they run the risk of losing social ties. You can’t expect someone to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go. Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.

— James Clear

A Question

What one step can you do to start transforming your family or circle of friends into a brave space?

P.S. Hat tip to my friend Diwa Malaya for first introducing me to the concept of “brave spaces”.