Can we forgive?
AUG 19 — On the first day of Syawal — after a month of fasting — Muslims all over the world will be celebrating. In Malaysia, there will be open houses, duit Raya and lots of good food.
But festivities aside, there is the spirit of forgiving one another and letting go of past feuds.
The question is, can we forgive?
When we visit our friends and relatives this Hari Raya, we will meet people who have touched our lives in some way or another. There will be joyous laughter and merriment. But will there be people we don’t greet on Hari Raya due to a past feud?
The country is divided by two strong political forces. But different beliefs should not keep us apart. Challenging each other’s ideas and forcing each other to look within is imperative to the nation’s growth. Likewise, amongst friends and families, this is a time for reflection and forgiving.
Perhaps we’ve spilled our grievances of the ruling/opposition party on various blog sites — often throwing in the cursory insults and demeaning phrases. Perhaps we’ve judged our opponents harshly and built a wall of distrust between us.
With friends and family, no doubt, the same clash of values and principles may have taken place. We may have unintentionally hurt another’s feelings or neglected to tell another how much they mean to us. Just as how we can have our tempers boiling at the rate the country’s politics is developing, we may easily slip into disgrace with our loved ones.
I remember a friend who once demanded a commitment to communicate but realised little then the strong impact that demand made.
Now, with the mudslinging that we see regularly in the politics section of the newspapers, I realise that communication is a bridge that connects the highway of understanding between two conflicting parties. It is not about verbal diarrhoea. It is about mature, open discussion where two parties communicate like adults.
But war of words is common in politics.
On the personal front, most people choose the cold war option. Choosing distance and silence as a way of avoiding a conflict. Thus, there’s always that “Pak Cik Azman” whom the family doesn’t invite for dinner due to past differences. Is this surprising? No, every family has its own “Pak Cik Azman” at some point or another.
Why is it that with politics we shout our sentiments out loud while with close relationships, we choose to play deaf and dumb? Is it because we’re trying to win points in politics by displaying our apparent patriotism while with family and friends the conflict bears too much pain and bad memories?
It’s true that national issues seem to be of general interest and a shared passion while conflict with family and friends take on a more personal form. But that’s all the more reason why we should analyse the conflict and ask ourselves if the differences are worth allowing to broaden the gap between us.
Perhaps, it’s time we re-evaluate our perspective.
Were there not enough good intentions when we started out? Were there not enough good times? Were the differences explainable without emotive interference?
Similarly, it would be good to see more understanding between supporters of the different parties at play. Less web and print stabbing would ease the political climate — at least during this festive season.
I truly believe that all people, if committed to communicate, can sit down together, perhaps during a Raya open house, and look each other in the eye with gracious acceptance about our differences yet with the willingness to put an ugly conflict behind us.
A divided nation does not bode well for progress. Let’s respect each other’s principles and accept that harmony and tolerance are key to racial unity. With open hearts, we can move forward together.
This Hari Raya, I would like to wish all Muslims, a blessed celebration and all Malaysians, a happy holiday. Maaf zahir dan batin.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.