Washington D.C. has a new adornment outside the Indonesian Embassy: a beautiful 16-foot high statue of Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning and education. The statue was gifted to the United States by Indonesia, a nation with the largest Muslim population in the world. She was constructed by five sculptors from the Indonesian province Bali, a region highly populated by Hindus in an otherwise Muslim country. Indonesia’s gift choice symbolizes not only respect for diversity and religious tolerance, according to a spokesperson of the Indonesian embassy, but values and principles that are important to Indonesia-U.S. ties, such as education.
I think it’s a lovely gesture of goodwill from one country to another, and especially refreshing coming from a Muslim country in a time when Islamic extremism has become a major issue in international politics. Other Muslim nations could learn from the fact that giving acknowledgment, respect, and rights to minority religious groups is not a threat to or devaluation of Islam. May we all learn to advocate and have respect for the minorities in our countries!
Now if only Saraswati could “bless” the greedy, short-sighted politicians in Washington with Her divine wisdom!