When emotions run high

04 Dec 2018 / 09:00 H.

OF late there have been a spate of incidents, which are causing concern all round, to politicians and the public.

There was the altercation among individuals and groups going on a “rampage” at the Seafield Estate Temple vicinity and of course threats of demonstrations on Dec 8. What is wrong with some people?

Is rough talk, equally rough action and behaviour (thuggish even), and confrontational attitudes the only way and approach to any issue or problem? What happened to calmness in thinking, objectivity in approach and putting priority upon peace and the collective good?

Many are feeling uneasy when some so-called “leaders” use words such as “amok” and rampage, and call for street action, rather than taking the time honoured approach of discussion and seeking and working to find mutually agreed to peaceful resolutions.

Certainly, “heroic” behaviour is not measured by the decibel level of one’s voice and liberally-used words that appear to threaten and instil fear. Rather it is measured by the level of wisdom as reflected in the objective approach to and management of issues, any issues at all.

When emotions run high and unchecked, and issues are not viewed and deliberated from all possible angles there is always that narrow and almost xenophobic approach and stance, reflecting that very divisive “they” and “us” syndrome.

Regardless of whether there is not even an iota of racial element involved, somehow there will be those who feel compelled to interpret it along racial divides, if not religious undertones.

Why are some of us, as Malaysians, not ready or willing to choose the path of unity and cooperation among us but prefer to choose the path of conflict and confrontation.

Adding fuel to the fire will certainly not extinguish it. Rather, rough and abrasive talk and arguments will fan sentiments, rousing anger where there was none, and having the effect of firing loose cannons and buckshots.

There will be undue and unnecessary collateral damage inflicted on other people, society and even on the nation, when others perceive all that as being “social unrest” and “a divided nation”.

It cannot be denied that social media in its most “unsocial” form will catalyse the fanning of emotions, with all and sundry running commentaries, and adding opinions on to uninformed or wrongly informed issues. Often when issues are debated on the unsociable media, and when viralised, they gather various reactions, depending on the state of mind and emotions of the persons receiving the information on line.

Often, when there is that clarification made by the authorities, or those in positions responsible for clearing the air, such information seldom gets into social media. It seems to be that clarifications, corrections and the facts often do not get viralised. And many will hold on to the earlier misinformation.

There were several videos of altercations between and among individuals and groups, of abuses in kindergartens and such, that went viral with comments, assuming that the incidents happened in Malaysia and also recently.

However, on checking, those incidents either happened in neighbouring countries or had occurred sometime back. Still, viralling them as incidents happening in Malaysia, and in recent times, does serve to paint our country in bad light, and points to negativities that are assumed to be in Malaysian society.

What more if news on current incidents, or being planned to happen, are triggered internally within our own country and get to be circulated literally globally via social media.

Perhaps when we are faced with issues such as those being discussed in our society, we should be reminded of the old Malay adage: “Seperti menarik rambut dari dalam tepung ... rambut tidak putus, dan tepung tidak bertabur.”

Literally it should be like pulling out a strand of hair from flour, done in such a way that the hair is retreived completely in one strand and the flour remains intact.

In a society as diverse as ours, that would be the best approach to solving any problem among us.

Without unnecessary show of emotion, display of toughness, use of brute force and treating each other as “enemies”.

We are better served by identifying our common enemies such as ignorance, narrow-mindedness, and even closed mindsets. There are the common social ills such as drug abuse, corruption and abuse of authority, among others.

We should vent our collective energies to fight these common “enemies”, and work together for our common good. We need to avoid being rabble-rousers.

We must strive to avoid conflict and extinguish embers rather than fan them.

Moving forward, Malaysia cannot afford to be constrained and held back by a society that has to face irritants such as infighting and endless power play.

When the people have to worry about street gatherings and demonstrations, and the inconveniences they cause, they then become less productive and less focused in their daily lives. And Malaysia, the nation, will eventually lose out.

Sejahtera hendaknya Malaysia kita.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz believes in speaking from the heart, mincing no words. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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