by Raja Arasa Ratnam
Reviewed by Cynthia Collins for the US Review of Books
"The bottom line is tolerance and fair treatment by all, to all, irrespective of origins, language, religion."
This book describes the conflicts and unity of different religions as they, and the people who practice them, search for a common ground in Australian culture. It focuses on the spiritual aspect of what was White Australia during British rule. It can either be read as self-contained or in conjunction with Ratnam's previous books, Musings at Death's Door and The Dance of Destiny, that deal with the prejudices of language, race, politics, and employment during the same time period.
Ratnam grew up in British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore). His environment embodied multi-ethnic, multicultural, and multi-religious tolerance. That changed when he moved to Australia at the age of 19 in 1948. He watched the country change from "white" British rule to one where the different races, languages, and religions are celebrated as a part of the variety of cultures. He goes into a lot of detail of discussing the various religions of the world as well as the beliefs of psychics and scientists. He questions the obvious and not so obvious, and wonders if those who condemn other religions are hiding their own fears of insecurity.
This is a well-written book and recommended for anyone studying comparative religion, sociology, Australian history, civil rights, and ethnic cultures of Australia. It would be appropriate for high school and college students, civil rights and religious leaders, and historians. The author uses a quote from Hippocrates made 2,500 years ago to make his point. "There is one common flow, one common breathing. All things are in sympathy."
RECOMMENDED by the USR