[Norman Rockwell drawing]
We all have our experiences. We all have stories to tell. Most of these stories and experiences shape the way we look at our selves and the world. For the unaware, the unthinking and the one who does not do any self reflection, their experiences appear to be the truth to them.
I hail from Penang. I recall the prejudiced clichés I have heard of the various ethnic groups – Malays are lazy and stupid, Chinese are dirty and materialistic, the Indians are untrustworthy and drunk. But I continued to have friends from all these ethnic groups. In fact I have very good friends from all these ethnic groups. I am lucky because my family is not racially biased. My mother taught us that if you really believe in Allah, you must be aware that all are “makhluk Allah” ie the creations of God.
Of course I too had unpleasant experiences with people. I recall when my family shifted house somewhere far from my school, I approached a few Malay friends of mine and asked them if I could stay with for two months until my STPM examinations are over. They said: No. A Chinese friend of mine, overhearing my request, offered and I stayed with him and his mom. His mom became like my mother. She even bought special utensils to cook for me without me asking her to do it. She took good care of me. I thought wow, the Chinese are kind people. Not materialistic as I heard others say they are. And her house was kept very clean.
I had a Malay uncle and aunt who will make drinks and food for the schoolchildren who pass by their house everyday – most of the children were Chinese. He was a school teacher and I recall him giving free tuition to quite a number of poor Chinese school children (yes, there were many poor Chinese around and I know there are many today too). I have Malay friends whose brains and their diligence which I admire. Not all Malays are lazy and stupid. If you look hard enough, you will find stupid, lazy people in every ethnic grouping all over the world.
Until today, I have a very good friend who is like a brother to me. When I came back from UK after doing my law, I stayed in his house for more than a year for free. He not only refused to take any rent, his wife cooked for me and he took good care of all the things I dumped in his house when I left for UK. I know that his house door is always open for me if I need to even live there. He does not drink. He is absolutely trustworthy. In fact, everyone who knows him will testify that he is an absolute angel. He is Indian.
I was dating a Chinese girl once. My parents had no objections. Her mother however, could not accept a non-Chinese son-in-law. I was a reject because I was non-Chinese. They engineered everything possible to make sure our relationship does not work. Was I supposed to hate her and think that ALL Chinese are racist? Just when my young mind was upset at the “racial rejection”, a few years later, I met another Chinese family which accepted me in totality. The parents are wonderful people. SO, there you go. Just because the first girlfriend’s mother may be a racist does not make all Chinese racists. She was probably ignorant or fearful of the "unknown" (a non-Chinese in the family?).
And sure, I have been “betrayed” by some “friends”. But they were, incidentally from the Indian, Malay and Chinese ethnic origins! I know some Chinese, Indian and Malay people who are downright racists. But hey, aren't the aware blessed?
The point I am making is this: we may have bitter experiences in the hands of some people from some ethnic groups…..but let us not make the error of judging the WHOLE ethnic group as evil or bad. There are a lot of good, decent human beings among them.
DO not let politics and politicians diminish our humanity. They are glorified scoundrels and thieves - most of them.
If we do so, we are the racist. There is something very wrong with our souls. Better fix it quick or we will be part of the problem.
What about YOU?