Promoting Religious Harmony
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah was quoted to have said that “Malaysia could learn from Singapore in maintaining religious harmony.”
As a former chairman of one of the committees in the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs), I’m mindful that race and religion can be visceral and, if not properly managed, they can cause irrational reactions.
And lead to a cascade of both intended and unintended negative consequences.
So far, the Authorities and religious leaders have done a good job in maintaining peace and harmony among and between people of different faiths and races.
This is one of the hallmarks of the Singapore Way.
We should be proud of this hallmark and continue to improve on it.
Lessons from tragic religious conflicts and confrontations throughout history should compel us to promote peace, develop more peace-makers, and strengthen peace-making processes.
When we learn how to promote harmony and resolve real and potential conflicts, and practice these skills diligently, we can build a stronger country and make our world a better home.
Promoting harmony starts with the heart.
The heart of any problem is very often a problem of the heart.
The values and desires of the heart will shape and determine outcomes of any engagement.
If the heart is in the right place and seeks to bridge and bond with others, there will be amicable and strong relationships and resolutions.
The challenge for most people, including religious leaders is managing the ego.
The ego is in essence an over-consciousness of the being and an unhealthy attachment to it.
That’s why, humility of the spirit is a value that is taught by all major religions and is one of the qualities of effective leadership.
When religious leaders and all of us are willing to put our egos aside and be humble, we will be in a better position to engage each other.
Expand our common space, and build better understanding, relationship and goodwill.
Let’s do our part to promote unity and bring forth more happiness and harmony to the people around us.
Do not just expect others to understand you but instead, seek to understand others first.
Stretch out your hands and build better bridges and bondings within your community and without.
In the final analysis, even if there’s no complete agreement over an issue, we can have a more loving heart and a more magnanimous spirit.
Together, we can step up – not shut down; love – not hate; forgive – not begrudge; heal – not harm; unite – not divide; progress – not regress; and be constructive – not destructive.
Peace is priceless. It begins at home and with each and every one of us.
I hope this message will find a place in your heart.
By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.
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