One of the most frustrating conversations, is the one where ideas cannot be discussed, as someone brings a point which is unquestionable, and absolutely right. What is right? What is wrong? That is where normally the conversation ends. But in a wrong way.
I feel a visceral dislike for dogmatic conversations like that. People who say that they hold the truth, and refuse to listen to other points of view and engage in a dialogue, remind me of my father when I was a teenager. He would not accept any form of questioning to his ideas, nor any confrontation to his decisions. We would close our arguments with either of his classic sentences: “Do what I say and not what I do. Or “The day you pay your bills you take your own decisions.”
Who we are, is heavily influenced by nature, nurture, and culture, but I am quite certain that my father’s nurturing has strongly shaped a contradictory and defensive attitude of self-righteousness in me, when confronted with…self-righteousness and authoritarianism.
Throughout life I have fought hard when I met people like that, and committed to never surrender to them.
I have not always been able to persuade and convince people, and for that sometimes I have broken relationships, being it of work or personal nature. I assure you that it took a long time, and the hardest way, to learn that there is a mid-point, where I could find peace with accepting people and ideas I cannot change, instead of feeling that their loyalty to omnipotence is my failure.
Provided we are not talking about unfair, illegal, immoral and criminal treatment, I have learned to accept that people have the right to be wrong; according to my definition of wrong. Just like me, nature and nurture also helped shaping who they are.
We can meet as people, and respect each other, beyond our differences.
I chose a quote from Rumi, an Iranian and Persian poet, because he beautifully expresses what I meant. Below you can read about him.
Who is Rumi? Jane Ciabattari explains his enduring influence.
“The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion.
“He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, who is writing a biography of Rumi to follow his critically acclaimed books on Frank O’Hara and Flannery O’Connor. “The map of Rumi’s life covers 2,500 miles,” says Gooch, who has traveled from Rumi’s birthplace in Vakhsh, a small village in what is now Tajikistan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, to Iran and to Syria, where Rumi studied at Damascus and Aleppo in his twenties. His final stop was Konya, in Turkey, where Rumi spent the last 50 years of his life. Today Rumi’s tomb draws reverent followers and heads of state each year for a whirling dervish ceremony on 17 December, the anniversary of his death.
The transformative moment in Rumi’s life came in 1244, when he met a wandering mystic known as Shams of Tabriz. “Rumi was 37, a traditional Muslim preacher and scholar, as his father and grandfather had been,” says Gooch. “The two of them have this electric friendship for three years – lover and beloved [or] disciple and sheikh, it’s never clear.” Rumi became a mystic. After three years Shams disappeared – “possibly murdered by a jealous son of Rumi, possibly teaching Rumi an important lesson in separation.” Rumi coped by writing poetry. “Most of the poetry we have comes from age 37 to 67. He wrote 3,000 [love songs] to Shams, the prophet Muhammad and God. He wrote 2,000 rubayat, four-line quatrains. He wrote in couplets a six-volume spiritual epic, The Masnavi.”
During these years, Rumi incorporated poetry, music and dance into religious practice. “Rumi would whirl while he was meditating and while composing poetry, which he dictated,” said Gooch. “That was codified after his death into elegant meditative dance.” Or, as Rumi wrote, in Ghazal 2,351: “I used to recite prayers. Now I recite rhymes and poems and songs.” Why does Rumi’s work endure?
800 years ahead of the times
“Just now,” Barks says, “I feel there is a strong global movement, an impulse that wants to dissolve the boundaries that religions have put up and end the sectarian violence. It is said that people of all religions came to Rumi’s funeral in 1273. Because, they said, he deepens our faith wherever we are. This is a powerful element in his appeal now.”
Mojaddedi has completed his translation of three of the six volumes of Rumi’s masterwork, The Masnavi. It is, he said, “the longest single-authored emphatically mystical poem ever written at 26,000 couplets, making it a significant work in its own right. It is also arguably the second most influential text in the Islamic world after the Qu’ran.” The original Persian text was so influential that in Ottoman times a network of institutions was devoted to its study.”