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A Balinese Taxi Driver Who Could Teach the World About Religious Tolerance

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Roughly 85% of the population of Bali is Hindu, the rest is mix of Muslim, Buddhist. Less than 2% are Christian.

On my way to the airport, my taxi driver and I were chit chatting away. Of course, he asked the obligatory ‘how old are you, are you married, do you have children’, as every taxi driver in Asia has always asked me. I answered his questions, “32, yes, yes” and right then we drove past this magnificent statue of Arjuna driving a chariot with Lord Krishna standing on top of ferocious-looking galloping horses. The statue represents a famous conversation that takes place on the battle field from the ancient scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. I asked the taxi driver if he was Hindu, although I assumed he was. He answered “Yes” and explained the significance of the statue (although I already knew). Then he asked me what religion I was.

Me: “Well… My mother was Jewish, so technically, that makes me Jewish, although I don’t really follow the practices.”

Taxi Driver: “What’s Jewish?

Me: “Uhhh… Well, Jesus was Jewish, so I guess you can say that Christianity came before Judaism.

Taxi Driver: “Who’s Jesus?

I giggled. Ironically, it was late at night, just a couple hours before Easter Sunday and here I was having a conversation about Jesus in a taxi in Bali with someone who had never even heard of Jesus.

Me: “Jesus is who the Christians worship.

Taxi Driver: “Oh! Very cool! I see! So, Jesus was this ‘Jewish’ and the Christians worship Jesus! Very interesting, very good!”

And that was it. We went on to talk about something else.

No judgement. No preaching about how his religion was the best.

Just simple curiosity and respect. He learned something new and he thought it was pretty cool.

At first I thought it was funny that he had never heard of Jesus, but then I imagined how many Christians had probably never heard of Krishna, even when 15% of the world is Hindu!

I wondered, if a Christian had driven past that same statue of Krishna and Arjuna, would they know what it was? The same way a Hindu might have not a clue if they saw a statue of Jesus on the cross.

It was such a nice light hearted conversation between the taxi driver and I. It was simply an exchange of information with no negativity attached.

It made me wish the whole world could have the same type of innocent conversations every time the topic of religion came up!


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