People in Malaysians have ushered in 2024 with various wishes and resolutions.
What is obvious year after year are wishes and resolutions that reflect the natural desire of human beings to be better in whatever they are doing – from improving self-discipline to nurturing better relationships with spouses, children, family and society.
The goal is to hope that peace and harmony prevails.
Peace and harmony cannot be built from dominance nor from narrow ideological inclinations that take on a partisanship discourse. They have to be built on virtues that reveal inner freedom.
The core principle enablers of peace and harmony are the virtues of faith, hope and love.
A faith that sees that God is for all and that all of us are brothers and sisters related to a broad, divine cosmos that does not discriminate in terms of race, religion and gender.
It would be utterly irrational if our belief in God – the first principle of the Rukun Negara (National Principles – is seen as the exclusive domain of a particular community.
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A hope that is rooted in humility, that life itself is a gift and we do not know everything. Instead, we surrender to divine wisdom in various life situations, that are beyond control. In the virtue of hope, what is vital is listening with empathy and providing hope to others who are different from us.
A love of divine origin that brings the parts together in wholeness – where relationships and issues are viewed not in half-truths but in the whole truth that resides in reality. Justice and peace are possible only where there is a desire to seek the whole truth in love. A love that transcends petty ethnic sentiment and reaches for the common good of all. Love creates an authentic inner freedom that reaches everyone: it shows concern for the poor and the marginalised, irrespective of ethnicity and religion.
Today, in the Malaysian context, we are in dire need of building sustainable inter-ethnic relationships. Such relationships erode when selfish ethno-religious politicians are unable to see the whole truth about human nature and reality.
We remain trapped by sectarian polemics related to race and religion. Justice is reduced to an ethno-religious angle, where objective reality and progress is painted with a subjective ethnic lens.
This type of politics places the country in a trap set by religious elites and politicians, who stir the vulnerable. These elites rock the emotional nest of race and religion for political advantage, to the detriment of the common good.
Therefore, the Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue urges everyone in Malaysia from all walks of life to take the lead at the grassroots level to build sustainable relationships that are inclusive.
In this new year, let faith, hope and love permeate our conscience and relationships in our families and in society.