Unity cannot be over-emphasised when there are totemic differences in a society. Unity brings benefits to any grouping of population vis-a-vis nation, race, faith and political orientations. It is closely related to economic stability, security, cultural and religious persuasions.
Efforts at ensuring unity in a country like Malaysia with various ethnic groups, cultural practices and religious persuasions can be extremely challenging.
Of late people are more concerned with unity of race and religion at the expense of others precipitating confusion to those of not the same ethnic group and religious persuasion. Slogans like “Sacrifice for religion, race and nation” are not helping to unite the citizens as the emphasis is placed on singular cultural aspects rather than the combination of these factors embracing pluralism and multiculturalism.
The article here by a citizen of a restive country with endemic turmoil is apt at describing what fragmentation of society would do to the overall well being and security of a country like ours.
We have been able to develop at a fast rate due to the peace and stability in our country. Along with good administration, we are also fortunate to have had a visionary leader who, for 22 years has shaped our country to what it is today. While he is not perfect, many of his contributions have brought us to the global radar.
Currently common interests appear to be sidelined when individual race and religion are highlighted and people are differentiated by how they look like and even by how they practice their faith. Before 1979, Malaysian women could not be identified by their religious faiths: they all looked the same in their various attires. Those days are long gone. In one State there is now even a public area which is off limit to men and women not deemed to be properly covered. An ominous sign of things to come.
Harsh interpretations of the religion, exploitations of human frailties such as mental insecurity and a general fear of the unknown have incrementally transformed the society into one of visible division based on faiths.
When people accept themselves to be different in a society, tension will gradually build up on perceived intolerance, dissatisfaction, partiality and bias. As a country we will not be able to achieve our economic potential if we continue to indulge in division.
Dwelling on differences rather than similarities precludes a win-win opportunity.
Fragmentation of such a homogenous society like Pakistan is tragic and the effects on the quality of life of the people are evident of the consequent destructions and unnecessary injuries and loss of lives. And yet we in Malaysia are heterogeneous and hence more malleable to fragmentation under the current cultural climate. Irresponsible politicians have, on occasions fueled this concept of mental separation to fulfill their political agenda.
I believe education in the widest sense sans all these religious overkill will help us keep our society together and avoid fragmentation like what is happening in Pakistan.