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We no longer belong to the times when (for example) a carpenter’s son could only be a carpenter. Right? Birth is no longer a limitation on what we can do or where we can reach in life. Nobody blinks an eye if you were born the child of a low-paid sweeper and end up running a business empire. Obviously there will be a few turning green in shades as varied as Mother Nature. But other than that there should be no problem. Of course if you are breaking law or stashing the stuff in sackfuls in Swiss banks then it is a different matter. But I digress.

We are no longer stuck to our ancestral villages or homes all our life. If the resources are forthcoming, and the initiative is taken, we can move regions, states, even continents and settle somewhere entirely different from where we were born. Were you born on a seacoast but the mountains call to your spirit? No problem, go right ahead and choose a place near the mountains, build a house and live happily ever after. Don’t like the damp and rains? Find a bright and sunny country and settle down to toasting yourself nut brown. Nobody will turn a hair.

Did you start with science as your subject of study and then found you had aptitude for the arts? Well, you may shock your parents with your sudden request for a change, but if they know what’s good for you (and them), they will let you follow your dreams with their blessings. Though there may be some family members who intervene and proffer unasked for advice, mostly people will leave you alone in this matter too.

What I am getting at is you can pretty much reinvent yourself in life without the general public getting all agitated. But… in case you want to see a disturbed beehive in action, what you have to do is try and change your religion. People who you never knew existed will swarm you, one set to pat your back and carry you on their back and another to hurl abuses and stones. The social media will discuss the matter threadbare and pronounce judgment on you. They will declare you have no business changing your religion. You may have found solace in a new one, but what do they care about that? You can change any other thing in life, but what the accident of birth gave you is supposed to be your permanent spiritual address.

I read much the same today, sane people, or those I thought sane, saying in all seriousness that people should not convert unless blah, blah, blah, blah (those were reasons they gave) which didn’t make any sense to me. I mean we are not talking of children here, are we, but adults old enough to make decisions? Even if those decisions are wrong, it is theirs to make and correct (or not). Unless they are being whipped into submission, in which case we must step in to help, why should they not follow whatever religion they choose to? Why should it be any business of others? Okay, I admit the *others* have a right to discuss and cuss too.

I read some theories, of people being *lured* into conversions. Seriously?!! Are we really saying that of people who are underprivileged? Day and night we are lured out of our good sense by (and gladly succumb to) ads of all sorts. Educated people, with comfortable homes, bank balances and full stomachs fall over each other happy to be *lured* by promise of things we scarce need. (What is that model with the perfect skin doing other than *luring* you to buy the anti-aging or whitening cream for which you sprint to the nearby shop?). We trample each other for a few freebies that come with shopping this or that.

Yet, we have the gall to talk of people with half-filled (or empty) stomach and uncertain tomorrows being *lured* with basic amenities dangled as bait. Wow. The cause does not get the deserved attention, only the result is being discussed passionately. I wonder we are not dying of shame. The truth is, not many are bothered about the hunger and hardships of the underprivileged, but there are sufficient numbers worried sick about their religion. Sadly so.