Sunday, September 06, 2009

this is a very very good article

I want to believe — Debra Chong

SEPT 6 — Fox Mulder always said the truth is out there. And like his long-suffering FBI scientist-partner Dr Dana Scully in the hit-TV series “The X-Files”, I too want to believe.

I’m talking about the sad, sorry state of faith in Shah Alam, of course. The shameful episode yesterday morning at the town hall when the two-way talks between the state government and residents in Section 23 failed, loosing mere anarchy upon the world.

It was an awful scene. Neighbour versus neighbour, pointing fingers, shouting their disdain, lobbing insults on whose religious practice is more annoying.

Mind you, these people baring their fangs and leaping at the other’s throat are full grown men and women who work hard to earn a decent living in order to bring up their children for a better future.

Time magazine will have a hard time choosing a quotable quote for its next issue.

And over what, exactly? How did this issue start? How did it reach the boiling point? What was the trigger that pushed these normally civilised folks over the edge enough to threaten bloodshed, and more than bloodshed?

One faction accuses the other of not being “sensitive” to their culture/religion/basic rights as enshrined in our Federal Constitution. The other claims the same.

The truth? Only God knows.

Personally, I believe the whole matter with the temple and the reason behind why half the residents are for and the other half against it have been yanked out of its original context.

I want to believe that it does not matter who started instigating the stampede or who is to blame.

For one, it was never a straightforward story to begin with though, as some people, such as change28 — a reader of this website who got six “+” votes at the time of writing — sees it.

“To all religious adherents,” he/she adresses.

“If your faith is strong and your god is in your heart, what need do you have for a house of worship?” he/she asks and adds: “That applies to all houses of worship.”

“As for the Section 23 residents whose sensitivities are so easily upset, just let them have their way,” he/she continues.

“After all, if you all believe that your respective god will ultimately decide your fate, your god will tell you soon enough,” he/she concludes.

He/she has a point. But so is the saying: “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

I want to believe that Michael Jackson — may he finally rest in peace — was right when he said if you want to heal the world and make it a better place, then you’ve got to start with yourself and make the change.

I want to believe that we can live and let live.

And I believe we can.

The former Buddhist chief high priest of Malaysia and Singapore, the venerable Dr K. Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Maha Thera, was once asked: “What’s the best piece of advice you have for people of different beliefs?”

He was among a panel of religious leaders at a camp for mid-level managers wanting to make a real change in their lives.

Many expected him to regurgitate the common mantra about doing unto others as you would like others to do unto you, or one of its variations. He had dozed off halfway through the session, you see.

Instead, he started telling a story from when he was a young man and shared a car with a devout man of a different faith.

The car’s engine died when they were caught in a sudden flood. So they were forced to push the car for several kilometres and were drenched to the bone because of that.

Luckily, he said, they managed to find shelter at a church. The resident priest invited them in to dry off and spend the night.

And when the Christian priest learnt that Dr Dhammananda’s companion was worried that he would not be able to perform his prayers as required by his religion, the priest quickly told him of a spare room available and gave him a compass.

Turning to his now enraptured audience, the wily old storyteller said: “I learnt a most valuable lesson that day, that is to help another man remain as true to his religion as you can.”

A few months later, the venerable priest passed away peacefully at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre. It was August 31, 2006. He was 87.


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