A timely call for unity and peace

05 Aug 2019 / 20:00 H.

THE call by our newly installed king to re-establish, nurture and emulate unity and peace seemed like a clarion call to me. Many ordinary people, the subjects, were moved and I was too, with the king’s unassuming message and yet palliative to the ailing nation we have become. The decay and rot are taking its toll on the country and people are looking for palpable menders and the unity call is timely.

While reading the scores of messages sprawled lavishly in the media, for once I was inclined to keep reading as from within the words, a tiny ray of hope peeked, meekly and even cheekily, that we could salvage what is left.

Like a snake which has just had its meal of the week, gloating and feeling rather fulfilled, I reminisced stumbling on a piece of letter which is more than half a century old and it doesn’t matter that I was not even born yet, it strikes a chord with the recent events, nevertheless.

During the time of Martin Luther King Jr a statement in similar fashion was written by the clergymen to address the peaceful protests led by Dr King in Birmingham.

The clergymen wanted all the protests in the streets to end even though they were nonviolent. They felt they were not going to solve anything and that these problems should be solved in court.

The clergymen say that the protests were handled in a “calm manner” by the police and wanted them to continue protecting the city from violence.

The main point of the statement was that the Negro and white communities should work out the issue without the demonstrations in the streets.

The letter is imprinted in history as “A Call for Unity” and I wish we could record our king’s own “Call for Unity and Peace”, imprinted in our minds, carved on stone and etched in our memory that unity is the most important ingredient for a country to prosper.

In answering the king’s call, let’s expose the pretence by politicians who use unity as a front and nothing more than a side dish in their otherwise lavish master plan to appease their political ambition, resorting to any means.

The “divide and rule” game played in the past to maintain the imperial rule should have taught us lessons that would last a lifetime but that it is not to be.

As he prepared to be installed as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on his 60th birthday on Tuesday, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah made it clear that he wanted to see a Malaysia whose citizens are united and living in a peaceful, stable and harmonious country during his reign.

Counter-intuitively he expressed his regret that his wish may not be fulfilled in the short term and this is a calculated statement considering how we are tearing ourselves apart with infractions and issues.

Someone very dear once told me that life would be boring if we didn’t have diversity, opposition, disagreements and disparities and I tend to agree. The thought of eternal homogeneity in all spheres of our lives is insipid and indigestible, even to the most conservative among us.

Diversity adds colour to our otherwise mundane life. The shortest story of man on earth would be, “I was born, I existed and finally died”. Between these two dots of beginning and the end lies a whole lot of incongruences and upheavals that make up what we call life.

Multiplicity is a marvellous thing, it mirrors and leads our collective thinking, changing to reflect changes in our lives and at the same time nudging those changes forward. Dynamic and organic, race and religion need not be the reason for the last man on earth to be sacrificed.

At one time, diversity simply meant variety, the existence of multiple versions of just about anything, people, food, culture, etc. In the last decade or so, despite that protests from larger groups who have always interpreted the word more broadly, it has come to be the descriptor for people who are racially, culturally and religiously different. Diversity also become a more delicate way of saying “minorities”.

Taking the cue from the king, where do we start? From the schools of course. The syllabus needs to be revamped, the teachers need to be retrained, the schools need a makeover, the laws governing our education system need to be relooked, we, the people, need to see people as people, let us not scrimp on our ability to extend our radiance and love to mankind beyond ill-conceived abstract barriers.

Hail to our king!

Comment: letters@thesundaily.com

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