Seeking God, but missing compassion

OCTOBER 10 ― The frequent clashes between the ultra-religious and social liberals is nothing new. As predictable and as recurrent as the tides, a reality Malaysians need to see for what it is: completely normal.

We are unusual. In some ways, special. In other ways, maddening. There is no country, really, quite like us, for good or ill.

There is a precarious balance when it comes to bringing together disparate groups. On paper, a mix like Malaysia’s shouldn’t work. But it does.

Right now there is so much religious discourse. Talks of laws, punishment, moral policing and judgement. So-called societal “problems.”

Yet what is missing here is God and compassion.

There is so little thought given to kindness. To mercy. To a justice that is truly justice. Justice does not mean vengeance or retribution, it is about fairness.

So many faiths. So many deities. Yet some values should be universal.

I question the so-called experts who apparently think they know what God would want. As I understand it, most of the religious discourse, once you dig below the surface is prefaced on that fragile, fallible thing called “opinion.”

The Abrahamic faiths themselves, each are divided into different schools of thought. All scriptures interpreted differently, and sometimes devoid of context or intellectual rigour.

It is dangerous to teach that theology must be unquestioned, that faith must be blind and swallowed as it is delivered by men who claim to know better.

Because it takes just one man who preaches violence to spread that violence the way a match can set alight a forest.

I don’t even need to point to Syria. Look at Indonesia. Decades of tussling with radical elements, with the knowledge that at any time, a match can be struck. A nightspot set ablaze, a church blown up.

They use the same justification we hear from our own spiritual authorities: “God would want this.”

I wonder, really, if they actually listen to God.

Why do some people seek God in punishment? They try to seek favour with whips and fiery speeches, in dawn raids and public humiliation.

The solution is just this: That we keep striving for that balance. There is no sense in trying to fight darkness with more darkness; we will all just end up blind. Now more than ever we need to preach kindness, elevate gentleness, encourage open discourse.

Only light can dispel the darkness, and it is up to us now to all try to be lights in the world. Before the whole world goes up in flames.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.