In his last play The Tempest, which represents his final message to humanity, the great William Shakespeare pictures himself as Prospero the wise man. Prospero has acquired wisdom after having gone through many trials and conflicts. Shakespeare makes Prospero welcome his daughter Miranda emerging from the sea like a goddess, symbol of purity, sincerity, and he addresses her as “the brave new world”.
The works of Shakespeare have illustrated all the panoply of what is good and what is evil in human beings. Ambition in Macbeth, jealousy in Othello, hatred, tyranny, racism, corruption, the forces of evil unleashed have been vividly portrayed as destroying humanity. Shakespeare in his tragedies echoes what the old Latin poet Ovid wrote “homo homini lupus”, that is “man has become wolf to his fellowmen”.
The world is torn apart today by so many conflicts and violence. We have seen the bombing of the innocent in Gaza, we witness the plight of the hundred thousand Christians fleeing from their homes in Iraq and forced to abandon their most sacred places. We have seen also how the conflict in Ukraine has brought down a commercial airline destroying the lives and families of civilians. In the face of such destruction as the forces of evil seem to conquer our planet, at a time when solidarity among human beings seems a dream, what can we do in our little island of Mauritius to counteract racism, corruption, hatred, tyranny, jealousy, ambition, interreligious conflicts?
What can we do to become like the old Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest? Where do we find Miranda, the brave new world emerging from the Indian Ocean which holds the island of Mauritius in the palm of its hands? Where is Miranda the brave new world?
Miranda is born every day in the heart of men of goodwill who are investing time and energy in training people to develop a healthy attitude of respect and tolerance towards the culture and religions of others.
Among the many achievements of the Council of Religions since its foundation in 2001 one of the most important is our common effort to counteract HIV Aids in Mauritius and to cooperate with Government and other NGOs to change our perception of a person suffering from Aids. Maybe we will be called one day to continue our efforts to overcome other physical diseases. Already the specter of Ebola is threatening our African region. But the worst disease is moral, it is the evil that is within the heart of human beings who refuse to recognize that happiness and harmony are born out of love and respect for all mankind.
Allow me to quote from the different religions of the world on what is considered as The Golden Rule of Humanity. This golden rule is a synthesis of all ethical codes worldwide. The golden rule invites each one of us to identify himself with his neighbor, to feel what he feels and to act towards others as we would have liked them to act against us. I am quoting in French from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, the Bahaï faith.
– From Buddhism: « Ne traite pas les autres d’une façon que tu trouves toi-même blessante ». Udanavarga 5, 18.
– From Christianity: « Ainsi, tout ce que vous désirez que les autres fassent pour vous, faites-le vous-mêmes pour eux : c’est la Loi et Les prophètes ». Matthieu 7, 12.
– From Bahaï faith: « Ne vise pas tant ton propre bien que celui de l’humanité ».
– From Hindusim: « Tes devoirs se résument en ceci : ce qui te causerait de la peine, si tu étais l’objet, ne le fais pas à autrui ». Mahabaharata 5; 1517.
« Je ne puis te faire de mal sans me faire mal à moi-même ». Gandhi.
– From Islam: « Aucun de vous n’aura vraiment la foi s’il ne désire pas pour son prochain ce qu’il désire pour lui-même ». Hadiths 1,12.
– From Judaism: « Ce qui te parait odieux, ne l’inflige pas à ton prochain. C’est l’essentiel de la loi : tout le reste n’est que commentaires ». Talmud, shabbat 31a.

This golden rule of humanity is to be handed over to children who are the leaders of tomorrow. As from primary school these values should be instilled.
If we remain indifferent to the religion and culture of our fellow Mauritians we will continue to be the prisoners of fear and anxiety because ignorance generates fear and anxiety which in their turn generate violence and conflict. Let us propose to our children and young people to leave behind them ignorance and fear, let us allow them to make a real encounter with the faith of others. And thus we will pave the way for the brave new world which Shakespeare had hoped for with all this heart and to which we can modestly contribute to emerge around us in our own country.
Abridged version of a speech in the context of an international seminar on “Learning to live together”.