Dear Ameer…Today is my 56th birthday and I want to thank you for
celebrating it in your loving home with creative friends from different
philosophical backgrounds. Let me share with you a couple of things that I
learnt as a student of human psychology and philosophy that might help us in our
Over the years I have met three groups of people who have been following
three different philosophical and ideological traditions.
The first group follows the religious tradition. Such people not only
believe in God, Prophets and Scriptures but also belong to a sect and attend a
church, mosque, synagogue or a temple on a regular basis. Many of them also
follow a religious leader who guides them in their rituals as well as in making
the right choices in life.
The second group follows the spiritual tradition. They believe in Higher
Power but do not follow a religious tradition and do not belong to any religious
sect. They believe more in personal meditation than attending any religious
The third group follows a secular tradition. Such people neither believe
in God nor do they belong to any religious sect. They neither attend any
religious institution nor do they get involved in spiritual practices. Rather
than believing in divine revelations and consulting scriptures for their
guidance in life they rely on their own logical and rational thinking inspired
by modern science, psychology and philosophy. For them their conscience is more
sacred than holy books.
The more I interact with the followers of different traditions the more
I realize that their personalities are as important as their philosophies and
their behaviors are as significant as their beliefs. Followers of any tradition
can have a fundamentalist or a humanist personality.
People with a fundamentalist personality like confrontations. They get
involved in heated debates and angry arguments. They focus more on differences
and try to convert others .which leads to social conflicts and finally end up in
bitter debates that bruise both parties emotionally.
On the other hand people with a humanist personality have a cooperative
attitude. They believe in a genuine dialogue and listen to the other person’s
point of view. They are respectful even when they disagree. Such people can have
friendships even with people with a different philosophy and ideology.
The relationship between people with a fundamentalist personality become
complex and complicated if those people are leaders of religious groups or
political parties. The conflict between the leaders can involve their followers.
Such conflicts can culminate in wars, sometimes holy wars and many innocent
people can get hurt even killed.
On the other hand the relationship between people with a humanist
personality can produce wonderful results. Leaders of different religious,
spiritual and secular organizations and institutions with humanist personality
can rise above their ideological differences and work together for some
humanitarian goal and decrease human suffering.
The more I become aware of the differences in personalities and
philosophies, behaviors and beliefs, the more I am finding it easier to become
friends with followers of different traditions. I have been successful in
arranging workshops and seminars with people who followed religious and
spiritual traditions. They knew that I am a Secular Humanist but were quite
willing to join me in my professional and creative projects as we had a common
goal to improve mental health education and raise social consciousness. Mutual
respect and common goals helped us in working together and serving our
DearAmeer, I am aware that we belong to different philosophical traditions but I
feel very fortunate to have met you and become close creative friends in such a
short time. We both have a genuine respect and regard for each other’s
personality and philosophy. I look forward for us to dream, work and create
together. This letter is a spontaneous expression of thanks and a pride that I
feel in our friendship.