Culture belongs to all of us
We have today live cultures Let us not make monuments of these Let us listen to those scholars who had really put their heads into this One pertinent suggestion was, Look into your theology see whether you have something which disturbs people, which move people to disturb, which has destroyed cultures I want to have religious freedom You must have the freedom Everybody has got the rig
We have today live cultures. Let us not make monuments of these. Let us listen to those scholars who had really put their heads into this. One pertinent suggestion was, “Look into your theology; see whether you have something which disturbs people, which move people to disturb, which has destroyed cultures.” I want to have religious freedom. You must have the freedom. Everybody has got the right to be free. If I want to be free, well, you should let me. Otherwise, I can’t be free. Or I have to resist you. Here starts violence.
I want to be free. You let me be free. I let you be free. We are free. We don’t need to stand on each other’s toes. If you don’t let me be free, and I am constrained to fight you, I cease to be a human being. I become a living being. I become a living organism, which has got this natural instinctual urge to survive. All my human values disappear.
And there I say, look into the theology. Your practice of freedom of religion definitely is only to live your religion. You cannot destroy any other religion. You have no right. It is violence against other religious sentiments; it is violence against cultures; violence against religions; and this violence has been going on for centuries. And it continues to go on.
It is one thing to forgive what has happened. Who am I to forgive for the cultures that got wiped out in Egypt, in Greece, in Africa, in South America? Who am I to forgive whom? I can’t forgive, because I am not in a position to forgive. Not that I don’t want to forgive. I have no powers to forgive. I need to be forgiven, being a part of the humanity that mindlessly destroyed the cultures, live cultures.
What was the culture, which made all those pyramids? What was that religion that moved the people to create such wondrous monuments of human endeavour, human ingenuity, and human genius? And we have the great legacy of people who have destroyed those live cultures. In Greece, we have monuments. If any Egyptian government were to, suppose, pull down a pyramid to build a housing complex, I don’t think the United Nations Organisation and the humanity will allow that to happen. It is no longer the property of Egypt. It is an ancient monument of human genius. And it belongs to all of us. But one thing, to err is human; to keep committing the same error, I don’t know what it is. I know that it is not angelic.
(Excerpt from Swamiji’s speech at the UN Millennium Peace Summit)