Working Together: Agree To Disagree
In the days of the steam engine, the engine drivers had no option, but to stand at close quarters to a blazing fire. It was all part of being an engine driver, and without that no train could have run.
Much the same thing happens to individuals who make things work in civic life. They are confronted by the blazing fire of their own anger at other members of society. They rage at wrongdoers, cheats and shirkers, both real and imagined.
But just as the engine driver controls both the fire which drives the engine and his own desire to escape from it, so must the individual in society tame both his own fury and a desire to simply run away from adverse situations.
If a society is to hold together and function in harmony, individuals must learn to bear with those who oppose and hurt them. There is no group of people in which differences of opinion do not arise; no group in which there are never any feelings of grievance and resentment.
It would, indeed, be unrealistic to expect that everything should be plain sailing. If a society is to hold together and function in harmony, individuals must learn to bear with those who oppose and hurt them.
How then, can people live and work together? How, with seemingly irreconcilable differences between individuals, can society be welded into a cohesive whole? There is only one way: people must bury their differences and agree to disagree.
But this is only possible if people react coolly and rationally in difficult situations where relations are strained and there seems no way out of the dilemma. It can happen only if people are fully aware of their responsibilities towards others, as individuals, and towards their community as a whole.
This may seem to be asking for the impossible. But it is not so. Every individual does these things in the most natural way within his own domestic circle. In quite normal families, differences of opinion occur almost every day, but the bonds of love and kinship prevail and grievances are all finally buried. It is in this way that a family holds together. Every home is a practical example of people agreeing to disagree.
This spirit of give and take which is a matter of instinct in a family is something which can emerge in a community only through conscious effort on the part of its members. While it is an emotional bond that keeps families from disintegrating, it is a rational effort which cements society, constraining its members to hold together despite all differences.
(By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan)
Spirit of Islam, November 2014.