Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Social: Intolerance, Indifference and Tolerance

Social: Intolerance, Indifference and Tolerance

During my undergraduate days, while I was an active student activist in Canada, I pushed myself to explore every opportunity that Canada could give me and that which Singapore will not. Out of this enthusiasm, I was able to spectacularly achieve numerous feats with the grace and mercy of Allah and successes and win lots of praise from people. However the only praise and achievement I am proud of myself is the name I earned for myself as the “one who never gives up his fight against intolerance”. In fact in my last year of university I earned the name as the one who fought the most, within the university, to challenge intolerance in the post September 11th era.

As I left my undergraduate university, circumstances and opportunities in my life continually changed and hence I was not able to do in the thereafter most of what I was able to do before in the undergraduate university environment. However there was one thing that I never gave up till today, which is to fight intolerance. I simply cannot tolerate intolerance of anything be it race, religion, language, nationality, colour, gender etc. Perhaps this is due to nothing more than the fact that I have faced and continue to face immense discrimination on the basis of my own race, religion and language.

Anyway the other day I was curious to find out how much of intolerance do people harbor towards people of other races. Since people indeed are much less hesitant to express such intolerance on the internet I decided to do google searches using phrases such as “hate Indians”, “hate Chinese”, “hate Malays”… I was shocked to see there were so many hits for each of the searches. It is unthinkable for me to even imagine that anyone will be so bankrupt of self-restraint or basic manners or refinement enough to boldly announce such inner hateful feelings within them publicly. I myself have been subject to discrimination in terms of opportunities for jobs, education, career advancement since the age of six by people of a particular race. However there have been other people of that particular race who have helped me immensely in life. Even if I discount the kindness of the latter and harp on the intolerance shown to me by the former group of people, if I were to reciprocate the intolerance in any way, will I not be as despicable a human being as them? I will be just like them. An equal. Indeed the natural instinct is to retaliate when subject to such abuse but hey its an animal instinct. As a human with a faculty called heart that has a capacity for mercy and a mind that has a capacity for rationality, will it not be more appropriate for me to be indifferent to them than to be intolerant? I guess its easier for me since I believe in the the Just Lord, life hereafter and Judgement day whereupon this belief relieves me of the inward drive to seek justice by myself as I know the Al-Mighty will give me justice against those who abused me with their intolerance, in this life and/or in the life hereafter. This sense of relief allows me hence to be indifferent. However I ask myself what then is going to happen to me if I should loose this sense of relief or anyone who does not have this sense of relief in the first place. Then they will be pushed to seek justice in their own accords, hereby seeking justice with intolerance in response to intolerance. When people, who due to their own intolerance towards a particular group of people, face the retaliation by the latter group, they can only project the intolerance of the latter group and ignore their own sense of intolerance. Having been intolerant in the first place, they then response with more intolerance.

The bicycle of Mankind’s self-destruction is intriguing. On one end is the cycle of intolerance breeding intolerance. On the other end is the cycle of violence breeding violence. Both are in turn connected to each other where intolerance ignites violence and violence promotes intolerance.

I always believed that the best form of national security that a country needs to build up against a neighboring country’s potential threat is not through amazing weapons and arms but through building up bilateral tolerance levels. Today unfortunately the only time we see indifference and tolerance amongst politicians of the globe is when natural catastrophes such as tsunami or pandemics threaten human existence as a whole.

Indeed each one of us has a duty to promote tolerance amongst each other which has to come about through interaction, knowledge and understanding. Every one of us who compromise on this duty and instead encourage or demonstrate intolerance indeed is committing a crime against humanity as his/her actions will inevitably breed more intolerance with a snow ball effect, and at the worst cases potentially ignite violence resulting in loss of innocent people’s sanctity of peace, life and/or property.


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