Sunday, February 6, 2011

The realities of life....

Life is always a changing mosaic - a fast moving collage of happenings that often leaves us breathless. Do we and can we understand everything that happens before our eyes. Anyone who can categically answer ' Yes' is either a presumptious omniscient or an egoistic ignoramus. What we can understand is only life as we shape it for ourselves, as we understand and picture it in our mind. The real life out there could be far diiferent from what we thought it to be.

Everyone has his or her own image of life and what it should be like. That's the sum total of our ideals. Can two or more people have the same ideals.? Of course you can but only up to a certain point. Beyond that we all have our differences. It is the sharing of certain common ideals that brings people together as friends and colleagues. Different ideals and ideas about life will keep them apart.

That's quite natural . What's not natural is the fact that people having the same ideals and ideas about life have different understading or impressions of the real world as it exists today. They see different achievents of their ideals and experience different levels of satifaction or frustration. The gaps between what they hope for in their ideals and what they see as being achieved in real life are different. What others see as having been achieved they don't see it as such. Even though things have changed they don't see the changes. That is because the image of the world in their mind has not changed one little bit.

This is a very important factor in bringing people together in a society, especially in a multiracial one. The real world as we see it might have changed tremendously but not to them because the picture of life in their minds have not changed. Lets illustrate this phenomenon with a few examples.

The social status of the blacks in the United States has changed tremendously with the election of Obama to the White House. But some people in the world and maybe in the US itself see no change. In Malaysia the status of the non-Malays has changed tremendously after Merdeka and especially now after so many non-Malays occupied keys positions in the government. Yet to some there has not been much changes and the non-Malays are still being treated as a second class citizens. It is something in their minds which has not changed.

The most difficult change to appreciate in the world is the change in religous tolerency. Education has made people more appreciative of each other as friends and colleagues in spite of religious differences but some people still see religion as the root cause of all divisiveness in a multiracial society. Every disagreement, conflict or enmity between racial groups is traced back to religion though people with different religious beliefs have been living together for ages without serious conflicts.

Islam today, for example is still equated by some people with backwardness, intolerence, aggressiveness belligerence, and brutality.The brutality of the suicide bombers for example is seen as more diabolical than the killing of thousands of Muslims in Afghanistans, Iraq, the Palestine , Bosnia-Herzegovina, and various other places in the world. It matters little that some Muslim leaders have become the prime movers of peace initiative in the world. The picture of muslims' brutalities in the war of the Crusades and during the Caliphate years still filled their minds and so every evil thing happening in the world is dumbed on the Muslims. This is the stand of those with an Islamophobiac view of the world,

Undoubtedly some Muslims also carry indeletable images of the attrocities that the west had done to their county and their people. Thus they refuse or fail to see what good the west had brought to them, no matter how beneficial the changes brought about by their interaction had been. This is the stand of the xenophobes. But note that xenophobia is a hatred of strangers, not necessarily of westerners or of Christians as such. There's no word for a hatred of Christians comparable to Islamophobia. Good Muslims are prohibited from hating a fellow human being, but there could be xenophobes around.

These people are the greatest stumbling block that the world faced in trying to seek peace between the East and the West. The islamophobes and xenophobes carry a picture of the old world in their heads whiich had never changed in spite of the various changes that have taken place in modern times. Until they change the picture in their head they can never accept the realities of today and accept the fact that God had made the world not just for people of their own racial origin and faith and that others have as much right as they have, no matter how poor or powerless they are as compared to them . It is the image of the world in our heads which prevent us from accepting the world as it is today with people of all racial origins and faiths living and working together in peace and harmony.


Al-Manar said...

You write about something that needs a dialogue. I do not think I can leave a simple comment that does justice. We are all different, full stop. We have been created so, reflecting His greatness as a Designer, an Absolute Creator. We are bound together in different ways, clans, races, nationals, colours, blood brothers etc, etc. Islam demands that we be brothers and sisters. As Muslims we do have specific areas we act in unison. In faith we have something in common, unshakable.

Otherwise we are colourful lots. You and I have a lot in common. But coming from different backgrounds we have different emphasis and shades in the very areas we are in agreement. At he end of it we have to try to understand each other’s point of view, and if needs be, agree to disagree in a civil way.

norzah said...

I hope you didn't misread me, Akhi. What i'm getting at is the fact that we're often persuaded more by the picture of things we hold in our minds than by what we see now in the real world. Iislamophobia for example is based on the old and untenable concept of Islam as a belligerent religion always seeking to go to war with the infidels whereas it is a very peaceful religion. In Malaysi we have those who view the Malays as racial and uncompromising with citizens of non-Malay origin. But anyone can see that the Malays have compromised a lot, even too much to some. Any disagreement on that is welcome, especially if another view is offered. Salam.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
I'm inclined to think also that a sanely discourse is too often coloured by different backgrounds and prejudices experienced. This is further compounded by politicians with their hidden agendas. Too heavy stuff for the silent observer. But we reserve the right to our own beliefs, religious, political or otherwise!

norzah said...

Yes certainly, Akhi, we reserve the right to our own beliefs, religious, political or otherwise. Politicians of course have a way of integrating their political agenda in that belief, thereby gaining a strong support for what they want to do. It is through this process that we find people being used to support the political agenda of the day, quite unwitingly.