Forget About Your Own Identity

One of the symbols of the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic is a ‘faceless’ doll. It is a doll which wears different kinds of clothes, is made from a wide selection of different materials ranging from the porcelain to coconut fibre and clay in different colours. However That Caribbean doll has a face with no features. The Dominican Republic has people of different descents having migrated from different parts of the world. Some are of Spanish descent, some are of French origin and others have African antecedents, besides many others from different cultures and regions. In order to show an acceptance for all, to symbolize an inclusive society, this doll stands out as a symbol of an all-embracing culture, representing that which has brought together people so different from one another to create one big family.

A folk story from India says that once upon a time all animals looked the same. It is true that some were fat and some short, but for anything else they were identical. The animals found themselves in a quandary. They could not recognise one another… each one looked the same. No relationship could be built for the partners making the relationship could never be all identified. A solution had to be found.

The animals called a meeting and it was decided they would each seek some identification mark and place it before the others in the next meeting. A busy week followed. Some animals chose striped furs, but then the zebra and the squirrel had to work out the differences, not to mention the tiger. The elephant did not have enough time to spend on this and so went for a full Grey or brown, but he looked so boring that someone pulled his nose and made it long, so the elephant would always look different. Finally when they met a week later, they all looked distinctly different. The peacock had chosen lovely clothes, but had not tired by the time it had to choose a vocal chord.

Those of the animal who had chosen thick fur went to live on the hills. The ones who had opted for slippery costumes went into water. The chameleon was the trendiest for it changed colour in keeping with the context. Thereafter the animals lived happily, appreciative of each other. Whenever a fight broke out, they had to remind themselves that once upon a time they had all been the same. The differences had been created by them. This reminder brought them back to a harmonious state and once again they shared water and meals amicably.

To recognise and understand that all beings are fundamentally similar with similar hopes and aspirations became the basic teaching of all traditions, for peaceful coexistence. Different religions articulated it differently. If Jainism said, “He who knows one, knows all,” Hinduism said “Yat pinde tat brahmande,” or that which in the atom is in the world. Buddhism sees the Buddha in every living being while Christianity sees all beings as children of the same God. There is none different from one-another ultimately

Maulana Wahiduddin recollects how Prophet Mohammad was lying down when a funeral procession passed by. He immediately stood up in reverence. “But he is not a Muslim, the one who died,” Said one of his followers. “But was he also not a human being?” Maulana is said to have asked.

The Caribbean doll without a face is a reminder that cosmetic differences of colour and appearance mean nothing; what counts is what you are inside. It is therefore advised that to be happy, you need to forget your own identity and take every other one’s feelings that they are your own and you must try to treat him in the way you wish yourself to be treated with.