How did it come to this? – King Theoden of Rohan
The black Friday incident in Malaysia, which has stricken fear and terror amongst the people may come as a surprise to many. For keen observers of the nation’s decayed integrity status, I dare say it was not at all unanticipated. The dire consequences emerged from such tragedy have been dramatically under-stated by media coverage. The political leaders remained uncomfortably calm, despite the fact that what happened may very well have shaken the core foundations that the nation is standing on. Undeniably there was no reason to panic, but it was times like these that we should take the best opportunity to open our eyes wider and acknowledge the blatant defects in our societies that have been often under-looked, or more appropriately put, ignored.
Now it is the time we take a good look at ourselves, and ask what have we learned?
RACISM EXISTS IN MALAYSIA
As hard as we try to hide this fact in the closet, the painful truth surfaced on the black Friday. Racial discrimination based on religious standpoint is evidently present in Malaysia, despite the efforts of the government promoting and encouraging unity amongst the people. The roots of this problem dated back in the old days of our forefathers, and the flame has not been put out. The fire has always been there, not exactly being dormant, but discrimination exists in almost every corner and crook of Malaysian daily lives, everywhere. It took only a small window of opportunity to fuel the ever growing racism flame into a huge explosion.
Many may argue that the community should not be represented by the act of a small group of people. We should not judge the entire crate of apples based on a few bad ones. It is wrong to generalize. However, it is also unwise to sweep the ashes under the burned carpet, with holes all over exposing the dusts underneath it. The act of the “isolated” group clearly proved that there were indeed people who did not have tolerance with differences, may it be cultural or religious. The motivation that drove the attacks on churches all over Malaysia was not based merely on just defending the pride of “Allah”, the driving factor was propelled potently by discrimination against Christianity.
Ask yourself, why would anyone burn down a church? The answer is simple; they do not want Christians around.
Malaysia is known as a country that houses multi-racial people who practice multi-religion. Freedom of religion is encouraged, though freedom of speech is somewhat non-existent. We have often sold the stories to foreign countries on how peaceful and harmonious our country is, and how people from different cultural backgrounds, practising different religions can live together. The cold hard truth, which has been seen by many outsiders, that the Malaysians are too chicken to admit, is this: we live together, but that does not mean we are together. We may accept the fact that there are “others” around us, but are we all really united and integrated in peace and harmony? For goodness sake, ALL the political parties in Malaysia are based on Race and Religion. Even at fundamental political level that builds the nation, we stick to individual religion and racial preferences. If this is not enough to show how disintegrated our society actually is, I do not know what is.
MORALITY KNOWS NO LOGIC AND BOUNDARIES
Who is to tell us what is right and wrong? Morality is mostly derived from religion and its teachings, defining the good from the bad. Humans have the ability to construct logic, and based on the logic, they act accordingly.
Should we really point all our fingers at the “isolated” group that attacked the churches? Are they really the ones to be blamed? Yes, they have broken probably more than half dozen of rules pulling their stunts. They are wanted criminals now, hot on the run. Did they just wake up one day and decide, hey, why not bomb a church today? I am not saying proper punishments should not befall them, but we must look deeper into ourselves to gauge what was really happening around us. I believe the group acted according to their sense of morality. As twisted and demented as we perceived in our own eyes, the morality was obviously different in their minds and hearts. If they did not think bombing churches was the right thing to do, of course they would not have done it!
Free will is a bitch. You cannot control how a person thinks or feels. Hence there is no control over the actions and possible destruction that comes along with the actions. A dear friend has asked me once long time ago, if I was placed in a community that believes killing is the right thing to do, would I go against them and stand on my view, proclaiming the wrongfulness of taking another’s life? I may lose my life, but I told my friend, I would defend my belief to my last breath. By doing so, am I that dissimilar to the small group that attacked the churches, defending their beliefs? This may knock your socks out, but I can almost identify with their sentiments. Our sense of right and wrong are being formed by the society we lived in. The group mentioned earlier did not form their own sense of morality. The shape factor of their thoughts told them it was alright to burn down churches, if the situation permitted them to defend their pride and stand.
So where do we place the blame?
THE BLAME IS ON THE FUNDAMENTAL RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS
Islam and Christianity have always been at war. There are so many reasons propagating the holy war, but I would like to direct your attention to the core teachings practised by both religions. Although Christianity and Islam are different, the following is the list of items that must not be put aside.
1) There is only one God. Everything else is false. Those who worship other gods are enemies.
2) People who practise other religions are infidels. They are sinful, and we should stay away from them.
3) Unity is defined by people of same faith and religion standing together.
4) God will surely be on our side, on whatever we do if we do it for Him.
The list can go on and on, but tell me, how can these basic teachings be of any good to encourage cross-religion unity and peace? Do bear in mind that I am particularly referring to both Christians and Muslims here, with such similar teachings discouraging their believers to mix around with other practitioners, and subsequently form their own groups based on similar faith. Then what happens if the faith is challenged by others? Certainly, the believers will fight and defend for what they believe in!! The only question that remained is to what extent they would fight for their beliefs. From history, dying for religion is not an uncommon act.
As long as believers from each religion stand firm on the above-mentioned teachings, full integrity and unity amongst Malaysians will never be accomplished.
We have no rights and power to make any alterations on the basic teachings underlying a religion. Ironically, religion should be the guide for life, but countless people have been misguided by religion. For our own sake, let us hope that the current situation will not roll on any further.
CHRISTIANS ARE PEACEFUL PEOPLE
Christians were the victims in the current state of terror. At the time of writing this entry, eight churches have been burned, and attempted to be burned at KL, Taiping, Seremban, Malacca and Miri. Yet, Christians in Malaysia have remained calm, and did not strike back. I cannot guarantee the capacity of Malaysian Christian’s patience, but looking at the whole story thus far, it was astoundingly admirable that Christians here still show their faith not only in their own religion, but in the nation as well. Our best qualities are shown at most critical times.
However, I dare not imagine the possibility of Christians striking back. If even a small group of Christians suddenly decided to pick up that tiny stone and start throwing it thoughtlessly, war is inevitable. With all my heart and soul I pray the nation’s crisis will never come to this.
LOVE FOR MY COUNTRY
I love my country, I love Malaysia, I really do. I can almost put behind all the flaws and defects that otherwise made Malaysia such a great nation. Nonetheless, to be able to claim that Malaysians are multi-racial and multi-religion citizens living in peace and harmony, we still have a long way to go. Integrity and unity are not qualities that can be established over night. Negative preconceptions of the society and blocking mentalities must be addressed, and subsequently eradicated in order to promote better state of peace and tolerance amongst the people.
I love my country, I really do. For today, I grieve for Malaysia.