Peace isn’t the absence of chaos

DECEMBER 1 — Abraham Maslow said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will treat everything as if they were nails.”

How apt. 

Especially when the Malaysian psyche has been programmed, designed and moulded over decades into a religious tool that considers everything as “nails.” 

A tool that they apply to everything around them — even when there isn’t a figurative nail to hit.

Or when the “nail” isn’t theirs to hit.

So imagine my surprise when many were surprised that Malaysians were quick to declare the recent Subang Hindu temple riot to a racial clash. 

Despite the assurance by the authorities. Despite the repeated denials by the police.

The fact that many jumped to a racial reason behind the Hindu temple riot only magnifies the friability of our supposedly strong social fabric. We also learned how the stupidity, insensitivity and racist few could harm, hurt and destroy the peace loving majority including those whose job is to keep peace and maintain order so we can live our lives to the fullest, each day.

To those who kept saying that this isn’t a racial issue, get this right. It may not have started as one, but it is certainly racial now. 

There are many difficult questions that need answering following this riot. One would be, if a non-racial issue can become racial, what’s stopping other non-racial issues from becoming one?

Because peace isn’t just about the absence of chaos. 

There is a dire need to restructure and re-engineer our societies so they better reflect the multiracial composition of our country, through policies that promote greater inter-racial interactions beyond the customary celebrations -- from education, social support, housing, IT gadget malls and even the composition of public service if we are truly serious about building a nation that is truly harmonious, progressive and Merdeka.

And even if we have missed the boat for this generation, we shouldn’t miss the next. 

Yes, you don’t send gangsters anywhere, what more houses of worship — and yes, you definitely need permission before erecting any structures, not excluding temples and even mosques.

These are basics one would expect from a civilised nation.

But more importantly, underlying all that is the necessity to build a strong foundation to unite the country. And things like learning together, playing and growing up together go a long way to build camaraderie and to that end Malaysians need to reject efforts to systemically segregate the next generation, and one way is through our education system.

Our schools.

Why can’t we get the best from each system and create one that is remarkable, build around unity, progressiveness and an academia par excellence in mind?

Isn’t that what our schools should stand for? The rest, you’ve got afternoon classes and night tuitions.

And it goes beyond the realm of societal integration — for example, imagine if the children are taught to speak just three languages in schools with Malay and English as a compulsory, then match them with skills that industries and companies demand, what would happen to them? To our society, community and country?

Imagine the companies that would vie for them. The number of FDIs we can attract to our shores.

Imagine what we could potentially harness for the nation.

Because celebrating our differences should go beyond Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali — into one that is ingrained, practised and accepted as a way of life.

And to that we need leaders who think about what is best for Malaysia and her people — instead of what is best for the Malays. The Chinese. The Indians. 

They need to rise above their race, religion, politics, their village and NGOs. They need to think beyond their constituencies, and put the nation of 30 million first.

Understanding that what is best for their race is not necessarily what’s best for the country. But what is best for Malaysia is definitely best for all Malaysians regardless of their religion and race.

The saying is, we get the politicians we deserve.

So the question is, how bad do we want it Malaysia?

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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