When religion becomes evil

It is sometimes trite, but nevertheless sadly true, to say that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion.

Starting with the cowhead stomping episode, that got out of hand because of the perception of approval by the authorities, to the church burning and the latest pig’s head incident, we seem to be spiralling down towards a violent and menacing future.

By David Anandarajoo Free Malaysia Today

Like everybody else, I am subjective. And because I am subjective, I am also sensitive when discussing race, religion, politics and women when I am in mixed company.

I am as old as this country, born a little after August 1957, and have seen and experienced the best and the worst a plural society has to offer to the rest of the world.

The latest incidents where a pig’s head was thrown into two mosques, one in Rawang and the other in Sentul, must stand out as the nadir of moments in our half a century as an independent nation.

What could the perpetrators gain by this utterly stupid act of desecrating a house of worship?

These are acts of cowardice aimed at causing maximum damage to the very fabric of a plural society.

The finger pointing has already started, the rumour mills are now working overtime, theories as to who did it will be spun fast and quick and the blame will fall on everybody for a myriad of reasons.

Of course, someone will say Perkasa is to be responsible for handing out white ang pow packets during their CNY open house.

Someone actually wrote about the episode, in a letter. In the letter, the writer describes how he has lived among the Chinese and has many Chinese friends. Yet he did not know handing out white packets was only done at Chinese funerals!

It says a lot.

After living so long with and having Chinese friends, it must be concluded that this person has never been to a Chinese funeral. One wonders how deep or superficial his friendship must be.

Is this where we have arrived after 54 years of independence?

In my years at school, and I studied at a mission school, I had friends who were Chinese, Malays and Indians and none of us ever thought of one another as belonging to a particular race or religion.

We were just boys and the ‘enemy’ were the members of the opposite sex. What May 13 did was to make us more sensitive to one another’s religious proclivities, traditions,habits, rituals and taboos.

More than just tolerance

But we recovered soon, got on with life, some went to colleges and universities, made a life and some a name for themselves in the various professions that they chose.

But, there was one singular thread that bound us all together. No, much to the chagrin of the powers that be, it was not tolerance.

Tolerance means that we put up with one another…sometimes with difficulty. We were genuinely ‘in like’ with one another.

None of imposed our faiths or religious peculiarities on the other fellow. We knew instinctively what was right and wrong in the presence of the others.

We respected each other.

History has clearly shown that religion has often been linked directly to the worst examples of human behaviour ever imagined.

It is sometimes trite, but nevertheless sadly true, to say that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and these days more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history.

In school, we studied about the wars that brought the world almost the brink of total destruction.

No, that could never happen in our Malaysia…we were not that stupid, we knew.

We had a passion for one another’s companionship, we read voraciously, we went to our libraries, we played games together, football, cricket and hockey.

We were not just tolerant. There was no need to be. Because we mixed so well with one another, we knew what was taboo and what wasn’t.

Today, you even have to have courses on socio-cultural do’s and don’ts in our society.

I can’t seem to understand why.

The best course, during the genesis of our nation, was social intercourse with the other fellow’s community, family and friends.