CommentaryConnexionOPINION

Connexion: All Founders Day lunch chitchat

By Joachim Ng

Malaysia urgently needs a “diplomat” able to establish a feeling of brotherhood for the long term so that temperatures are cooled and the country spared from disasters caused by racial and religious discord.

Warning that slogans and rhetoric in the name of race and religion with extremist overtones can inflame hostility, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah has called on the people to keep an open mind to appreciate diversity. Find a meeting point instead of seeking differences that are more likely to draw a border of separation, the Sultan advises.

You, me, and everyone in the country should be that diplomat. All of us must become that diplomat within our circles of business or social influence. If we fail to take up the responsibility, then we are just hoping for our politicians to come to their senses and do the job. We can fulfil the promise of a brighter future if every Malaysian heeds the call by the Sultan of Perak.

What can the ordinary man and woman do? We can do extraordinary things if we stop thinking that it’s not our role to do something for humanity. Think of Malala and Greta.

How ordinary were these young girls, before they took up the challenge to make a change in all our lives.

December is the right month to launch new initiatives in time for the new year. Flip the calendar backwards and recall: how many birthdays of friends have you celebrated?

Birthday chatgroups gather every month to light the candle for persons who are in most cases just average guys. You celebrate to honour that person as a group member.

A wholesome way to erase the borders of separation is to start a novel All Founders Day lunch chatgroup that celebrates one sacred day for each of six religions — Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. If you haven’t got a friend from each of these six religions (Islam + member religions of the Malaysian Consultative Council of BCHST), then start with any two.

No conversion but conversation centred on shared universal values and the common bonds uniting all humanity. Talk less about your own religion and more about the good things you know about your friend’s religion. If you’re celebrating a friend’s grand occasion, you focus on his achievements and not yours.

One enjoyable topic for discussion is health. This is a subject that all religions promote. Another relevant topic is care of the natural environment. This is a topic that all religious adherents should be concerned over.

Happy All Founders Day!

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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