The city of Perth in Western Australia has a taxi problem. A burgeoning economy, a single very busy airport with an annual growth in passenger numbers in the region of 13% and a shortage of taxis (and drivers).
Many of the taxi drivers that are recruited (as in many cities around the world) come from divers countries in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. (I was born in Africa and I drove a taxi in Perth for about three years).
Now many of the people from these countries have enmities with neighbouring countries and tribes within the same country, going back generations. Those of the Muslim faith (may they prosper) have little or nothing to do with non-Muslims (may they also prosper). Then there are the divisions between members of the different sects within Islam. Nothing wrong with that either – Christians are just as bad.
Part of the problem, however, is that even though they abandoned their countries because of persecution of some sort, religious or tribal, many have brought their troubles with them. One would have hoped that in a new country (Australia) a new start could be made; draw a line in the sand, as it were, and start afresh. But no. In the Perth taxi world these much travelled troubles sometimes erupt into arguments and fights between the various ethnic and religious groups to the detriment of the service the taxi drivers are there to provide. And then there are the prayer times. Again good on them – more people should pray. But surely, not at the cost of someone else’s inconvenience? These prayer times interrupt the usual flow of the taxis from the waiting ‘paddock’, feeding into the airport rank. Those who went to pray lose their places in the ranking order (first to come, first to go). This causes a great deal of ill feeling and dissention. I mean is there such a thing as prayerful ill feeling? Or prayerful dissention? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.
Surely, surely the great God (Allah, Jehovah, Krishna, or the Absolute) who made us all does not really mind when we pray, as long as we do? I am certain that He (She) would not object to a deferment of a prayer to enable a service to be provided to another of His (Her) subjects, namely a fare waiting for a ride home after a long flight.
What is needed is some commonsense (a scarce commodity now-a-days) and some tolerance, both cornerstones of all great faiths. When all is said and done – where is God?
Some understanding of the need for ethical conduct in the taxi industry would not be amiss, and might restore some harmony in what is not an easy industry to earn a living.