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Simply Put, What Matters Most to You?

“What matters most to you?”

A tall, sharp-nosed English lecturer of mine hurled a philosophical inquiry over twelve lifelong learners in Introduction to Linguistics class. My brow furrowed spontaneously. While Mr. Agus walked gently towards me, my mind raced: “Diversity!” I stated, responding to the thought-provoking question he just raised. Mr. Agus stalled and smiled for several seconds. He seemed to be curious about the “diversity” I meant. He then asked me further, “Why does it matter most to you?” Thriving in academia, I’ve always been fueled by a multitude of perspectives and beliefs. Quintessentially, my thoughts don’t always fit in with others’. What I believe doesn’t necessarily match with what others do. Growing up, I gravitated towards learning numerous beliefs. My eyes would roam a panoply of bookstacks placed inside of my Father’s bookshelf, coalescing myself with debatable knowledge. Pondering on how diverse this life could be, I’m convinced that diversity of faith can unite well-rounded people to rekindle discernment in academia.

Being a Muslim young man, I carry on to scour my candid identity. My identity is the embodiment of my passion; I love to intrigue my curiosity by getting involved in critical conversations. While in college, I’ve committed to leveraging my passion through an English debate community that summons my intellectual vitality. One morning, a Christian Balinese young man strode past me. It was Arvin. He didn’t recall that we both had to do debate practice that day, so I waved at and reminded him of it. Despite the unsimilar beliefs, we both devote ourselves to a common ideal; we’ve been aspiring to become distinguished English debaters. Our love for English is genuinely immense. Prior to joining an English debate contest held last month, Arvin and I would sit together on a wooden, white-colored bench by his house. Underneath the calming Javanese sun ray, he began to show me a 464-page book titled Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. Our eyes began to scan through its pages, discussing why humans established religions as a bulwark to prevail divinity.

While having a profound conversation with Arvin, his Mother suddenly came up and took him to a church for Sunday’s worship. That same moment, I had to make my way to the nearest mosque for Dhuhr prayer. “Bro, our convo was worth it. I’ll see you around!” Arvin high-fived me. Thereafter, I made a beeline for a gold-painted mosque nearby Arvin’s house. Two minutes passed. I walked out of the mosque and went home peacefully. At home, I kept ruminating on Arvin’s pure, cutting-edge thoughts. To me, he’s been such a well-rounded man that he manages to change the way that I think. Although we step into different pathways as a Muslim and Christian, we would rather bridge interfaith understandings and seek for commonalities. Having a knack for English, we’ve come to realize that it’s where we shine. We’re fervor to maximize our potential to the fullest. Arvin and I would call ourselves “lifelong learners” who have a thirst for knowledge. As the ever-expanding world progresses, faith has become a means of fulfilling curiosity; I feel fulfilled when I delve into my religious belief and stave off any kind of callous intolerance.

Faith exists to cultivate an epiphany within our hearts. We attain this to reconcile our temporary lives. Nonetheless, pursuing it requires diversity of thought. All we need to do is unite distinct perspectives so that we can gain intellectual vitality. Take, for instance, in academia. I’ve seen most educational institutions enact strategies that enable interfaith teachers to spark students’ curiosity; from asserting a thoughtful discussion on the history of religion to dissecting life-lessons which students can learn from. The biggest mistake that we make in life is to regard interfaith communication as outrageous influences. I’d like to admit that none of those are facts. To date, whenever I share my Islamic traditions with Arvin - he always gets excited to gain a better understanding about it. Likewise, whenever Arvin unveils his view on Christianity - I’d be glad to listen to him speak. With this in mind, I’ve been taught to value a sense of humility and forge an unwavering cohesion with human beings regardless of religious backgrounds.

Diversity resonates with me in many ways, yet - what matters most is how it impacts for the sake of academia. I’ve read as many books as I could, but Arvin is the one who made me think of eye-opening ideas. When I find myself sleuthing every piece of religious history, there is no doubt that I am humbled to team up with people different from my own. As I write this essay, I come up with an idea: I’d like to embark on an intellectually diverse conversation. Never in my life had I realized that the world was full of wonders. Thus, I start looking at the world in a broader context. Christianity, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism,

Buddhism, Confucianism - all of which are worth scrutinizing. If I were to depict myself in a single word, it would be inquisitive, so I’d like to leave you with a question: why not?


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