MOST of us leave work associated with attempting to unify the people of different races and religions who call Fiji home to churches and government.
Not retired civil servant Frank Shaw who believes we have got to be involved in something good. Otherwise there is a possibility in being involved with something bad and as a result be a problem to society. Shaw says we have always been involved with someone or something from the time we were born. The Nukuwatu, Lami man whose book Beacon of Hope was launched earlier this year quotes John Donne's "No man is an island" to emphasise his point.
And part of his involvement is to help forge unity among us Fijians. The man who retired from the civil service in 1994 and started working on the material for the book has chosen religion as his weapon or tool of choice to achieve unification as can be seen from the 20 essays compiled for the book. Referring to the Bible he says: "Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers labour in vain." The former Marist Brothers' High School student readily admits he has not had any formal religious training apart from the religion classes in school.
Where political parties have manifestoes that outline how they are going to achieve their agendas, Shaw says the major religions, more or less, have the same aim which is to be one with God. "There may be different pathways but the ultimate destination is the same."
These differences Shaw says are over "small things". And the blame for this he lays at the door of the clergy. He reasons this out by saying some clerics are only after more people not to save their souls but for financial reasons. Shaw says these "sell their services" and are engaged in "simony". Simony according to him is when Simon (Magus) offered payment to Peter so he could have some of his power and work wonders. All chruches he says are guilty to one extent or another. This is addressed in one essay titled Churchanity and Christianity.
For true unity, Shaw says it is imperative for Christians to study, understand and appreciate Hinduism and Islam. Hindus and Muslims must do the same with Christianity.
He draws attention to the Hindu God Ganesh who has an elephant's head. "Hindus do not pray to elephants. The elephant however is the biggest of all creatures and so signifies that God is greater than everything." The trunk of an elephant he says serves to differentiate between what is good and bad for the animal. "And so we should all be discriminating against good and bad."
Despite his saying the book does not introduce anything new, Shaw points out another requirement for true unity is to realise and accept we are all the same. What we have in common outweigh our differences. The essays he says are not to convert anyone but to stimulate and foster understanding among people of different faiths.
There will be difficulties along the way especially when we encounter those who only want to use us. Shaw says be good anyway because that good will sooner or later be reciprocated unto you.
"If you don't want anyone to be your enemy, then don't be an enemy to anyone. If you sow love, you will reap love."
The author is selling the book for $25. It is also being sold from TappooCity in Suva.