AlwaysWoW! For a Great Great WoW in Life

Thoughts from me about things that are cool, that are WoW, that blow me away. Observations about businesses and people from a wide variety of life. Daily encounters - and thoughts outside the box, inside the box and without any box. New thinking, and challenging old thinking. Passionate about life, about respect, and about integrity.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Picture of the week - Badawi speaking the World Council

I think that Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi (Pakp Lah) speaking at the World Council of Churches was one of the great happenings this past week. He called himself a Muslim Leader of all Malaysians. He called for tolerance of religious groups that goes beyond their living together. He stated that the greatest achievements and progresses were made at the fringes when different religious groups interacted with each other and thus rejected the notion of the "bloody borders of Islam", as stated in the book "The Clash of Civilizations" by Samual P. Huntington.

All that he stated should be nothing more than normal procedure in any country anywhere in the world. It is known that diverse cultures flourish and nurture each other. It is common knowledge that companies where diversity of ethnic groups, religions and gender is common, thrive and expand. It is clear that a mutual understanding is nothing that comes overnight. It needs to be developed, supported and fostered over a long period of time. It needs to be acknowledged, by all the leaders in a country, from the politicians to those in companies and taken up by those many people who live the spirit and live the little changes in their daily life. Affirmative action for certain groups is okay, but should not lead to the disadvantaging another group - neither should affirmative action be used to ones own gain. In addition, affirmative action needs to be limited to a specified timeframe only.

Pak Lah's speech was great and a lot of people celebrated him for what he was saying. I was happy to read the speech and felt even more at home in Malaysia. But think about it!

Shouldn't it be the most normal thing that we all live together, party together, celebrate achievements together? To repeat, it should be the most normal process that different ethnic groups, different religions and different gender mingle with each other, learn from each other and enjoy each other's company.

It should be as normal as the behaviour of one person that leaves a note behind on a window screen with contact details, if he or she accidentally scratched another car. Nothing worth celebrating, just an act of integrity and honesty. A simple act of honesty.

When I came to Malaysia, 11 years back, I was lucky to find a group of people that accepted me as their friend. We were a small group first, but grew over the next couple of years. We were a great mix of people - Malays, Indians, Chinese, one Scot, one American, one German (yours truly) - men and women, some older, some younger. We went out together to discos, we had late night suppers at Bangsar, we had game evenings, when we played Pictionary throughout the Saturday nights, we visited each other during the different religious celebrations - we had fun with each other. Many of us married another one in the group -one Malay an Indian, the Scot a Chinese, the US guy another Chinese, I married a Malay. That was how I fall in love with this country - that there are so many people that simple respect each other as human beings.

We still visit each other, not that often anymore as we used to as today, we have kids and live a bit further apart. Still, we do see each other, every couple of weeks or months, individually and not that often as a big group. Still, we all were there to enjoy each other's company again when one Indian friend that now lives in France came back to marry her French boyfriend and had her ceremony here.

What gives me hope for Malaysia’s future? When I go to the playground with my child, I see other children playing soccer together with some teenagers and even one older guy is playing with them. There are Chinese, Malays and Indians. They are just enjoying the game - this gives me the hope that Malaysia still has a chance.

When I see how global politicians search the opinion of Malay leaders - Bush, Schroder, Girac, but also those in the Islamic world, from Saudi Arabia to Iran, I know that Malaysia is heard loud and clearly and I feel hope for this country.

There are many failed countries in the world that struggle to meet their needs end. Look at Sudan, look at Bangladesh, even look at Palestine. Their population would give so much to have something like a Malaysia for their future.

So yeah, Pak Lah is on the right path to assure that Malaysia is home to many different religions. He is right to say that only diversity and the rejection of extremism of any side is important to secure the world’s future. It is a start.

Is this write-up too emotional? Well, I am emotional about this, and I believe everybody should be emotional!

By the way: The picture was found in The Star, and came with this search string:

Just to be on the safe side.


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