Brave New World (The Star)
24 December 2014
Our choice must be rationality, compassion, fairness, justice and inclusiveness
WHAT do the IS, Taliban and Boko Haram have in common?
Firstly, they all describe themselves as Islamic.
Secondly they all have carried out acts of despicable brutality.
Finally, they are convinced that they are absolutely correct in what they do.
I think there is a lesson to be learnt from these three groups for us in Malaysia.
I don’t think we in Malaysia can truly comprehend the horrors felt by those who are the victims of these three organisations.
Mass kidnappings, forced conversions, the murder of schoolchildren, the beheadings of innocents, out and out war; these are things which are so grotesque that, to me at least, they seem almost unreal.
But they are real and we are blessed that we do not have to experience them first hand. But we must not be complacent.
I am not here to be a cheerleader for the anti-terrorism law now in the works. I have my doubts about this new law, but more importantly, the need for such laws indicate a failure to deal with a problem before it becomes a problem.
Now it would be naïve and foolish to think that the IS, Boko Haram and Taliban, for all their pious posturing, are purely about religion.
I am certain that any in-depth study of them will show that their roots are economic, political and social in nature. However, religion is a very useful tool and these people know how to use them.
How much easier is it to convince your followers that killing people is all right if is clothed in the language of a holy war. It is much simpler to deal with economic problems by making the cause of these problems the infidels and the answer is to eliminate them. And controlling society becomes a breeze when you can convince people that you are doing God’s work and only you are correct (coupled with a vicious system of law of course).
What does this have to do with us?
Frankly folks, I do not know what our future holds. I do not know if our economy is going to be strong or whether it will collapse. What I do know is that if things get bad, then people will become desperate and they will turn to something to give them hope. The language of the extremist is one such place
It is absolutely vital therefore that we must have many voices and views out there. There has to be opinions which are not reactionary but measured, thoughtful and just. We must dilute the potency of the extreme with a variety of alternative thought.
There are extremists amongst us, and make no mistake they are there, if not in out and out terrorist mode their language and stance is but a few steps away. If we allow only their voices to be heard, then what we are doing is preparing the soil for extremist behaviour to seed and take root the moment things get bad.
It is therefore of utmost importance to place into the consciousness of the nation a choice. The choice is a clear one. When facing the challenges of a nation, one can approach it through a crude and hateful ideology determined that it is the only valid viewpoint and filled with the malicious intent of the bigoted. Or we can choose rationality, compassion, fairness, justice and inclusiveness.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.