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I  am both sad and angry reading about people who protest against other peoples’ cultural practices. By cultural practices here I mean those that include religious beliefs. Why can’t we co-exist? Why the need to think that we are better than others and that we have been promised heaven when we die and that the so-called non-believers (heathen), will go straight  to hell? There are exhortations in the holy books ( be it the Torah, Bible and  Quran) that call for believers to do good, respect each other and live peacefully. For we are here , but a small moment on this earth.

It seems that specific religion followers love to take a lot of things out of context and interpret verses of the holy books to feed their bigoted mind. As if they own this world and that others  have no or less rights! Hurtful actions will only breed continuous unbridled hatred, making life complicated in the society.

The angry and insensitive protest of the Hindu temple relocation is a form of subtle apartheid, obviously born out of intolerance and lack of human understanding. It normally happens when people are insecure, uneducated and fearful. It reminds me of the brutal clashes between two religious groups in India some years ago when the mosque apparently built on the ruin of a Hindu temple was torn down by Hindu fanatics. Many were killed. I also recalled that the event occurred during the period when the dominant Congress party was weak and the religion-inclined BJP  party was on the rise and appeared to stoke the group violence to muster political support. Bringing in religious elements into political tug-of -war ,so to speak,  is highly inflammatory, a situation where every one will sure to lose.

May There be Light and Love

May There be Light and Love

In Malaysia the various cultures have been coexisting for many years and this year 2009 is our 52th year of independence from the British. We all should celebrate it as a nation and not give way to political differences. Since March 2008, the dominant BN coalition which has been in government all these years, has come across as a weakened party and this does not bode well for the country. Not that I am a BN supporter because I vote for the candidate and not along party line. If the election candidate in my area is a man/woman  of integrity, accessible and generally sincere, compared to the others in the field, he/she will have my vote. What I am trying to say is, under current circumstances, unsavoury political elements might have encouraged the unfortunate protest to garner support in the community. I hope it is not true.

Returning to the subject of  tolerance, we are not born to be culturally intolerant. We are, however,  innately intolerant when there is lack of basic life needs such as food and love. We learn to be intolerant when we are made aware and told that we are different from others in terms of beliefs and their inherent practices. If only our carers/teachers/friends/community at large  have acted more responsibly and created a sense of respect and empathy in the children, enabling them, as adults to deal with differences intelligently in this world!

TOLERANCE  can actually be acquired if we opened our mind and read, read and continue reading subjects related to cultures and  human interactions and talk and write  about these  to clarify our understanding. We should not confine ourselves only to books written by people of our own persuasion so as to deflect the bias. And yet, sadly, Malaysians are not known to be a reading lot.

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