“Judge your worth in the Creator’s sight by how much space He occupies in your heart, and your worth in people’s eyes by how you treat them. Do not neglect the Truth even for a moment. And yet, “be a man or woman among other men or women.” Fetullah Gülen
Love Malaysia by loving Malaysians- Treat others the way we want to be treated
Modernization is inevitable. With it comes byproduct – an introduction of new elements into our social, economic and political landscape. The demography of our community also transforms gradually as the development demands human capital of different skill sets to come together for a common good. Before we know it, more and more people of different ethnicity and faiths are cluttering around our neighborhood. What are we going to do with these ‘aliens.’ Who are they and can we trust them? Likewise, we could be on the other side of the coin. We are the aliens who are migrating into their long-lived homeland. Can we be accepted by the local community?
The situation gets worst when more and more of these ‘aliens’ migrate to ‘our area’ and one day we realize that their voices are challenging ours. The scene like in the movie “Guess who is coming for dinner,” is becoming more apparent in our own community. Our children embrace some of their traditions and challenge our ancestors’ traditional values and meta-narrative. Interracial marriage is popularizing. We say ‘hooray’ when their children embrace our faith, but our lives almost come to an end when our children also embrace their faiths. Our livelihood, cultural, and faith values are threatened! Is this the so-called human flourishing?
Have you heard the complaint from some Belgians on the blood on some streets coming from the animal slaughtered during the Qurban? Muslims in Xinjiang complain about the Han Chinese merchants selling pork at the wet market in their neighborhood, the workers from mainland China complain on the smell of curry coming from their neighbors’ home in the HDB flats in Singapore, and the story goes on.
If we do not take a firm action today, they could be the demography majority that can dislocate and dehumanize us tomorrow. Will our dignity prevail as our status quo slowly diminish? Should we ask them to leave and forfeit the human flourishing that we celebrate as a result of our coexistence? Should we let go the capitalization of human potential that can be tapped from a diversified community like ours? Should we continue to live our lives as ‘us’ versus ‘the other’ instead of ‘us as one community?’
This is our dilemma – we are so interdependent on each other but yet we do not really know one another. We want to receive without troubling ourselves loving the givers. How can we deal with the issue objectively? Are we still who we are without them? Has our identity been shaped by their presence in our lives?
We are left with two choices as antidotes to our xenophobia. We need to know them and they need to know us. So, let’s ‘Keep It Simply Simple’ – KISS. We can either use a mediator to express our discontentment and appreciation towards them and their way of lives, or we simply knock on their doors and say, “can we talk?” There is no other choice left. We need to engage in a meaningful and sincere conversation.
Opting for diplomatic conversation on what we think about ‘the other’ and hope from ‘the other’ and likewise, to inquire what ‘the other’ think of us and hope from us, is a good beginning in accepting the reality on our inseparable life journey in this diversified community – the by-product of modernization that we fervently hold on to. How do we sincerely work within ourselves and rework our mind set that our culture is no more superior than theirs. As people of faith, how can we look at them and say that God loves them as much as God loves us.
In this 21st century, you and I are not alone in resolving such conflict. So, let’s converse with love to our neighbors who have tremendously contributed to our wellness and be a part of our lives, either directly or indirectly. This is what I call ‘diplomacy.’ It is not the absolute solution to our crisis but it is one of the most necessary tools for conflict resolution in today’s diversified community.