What The World Needs Now: Religious Tolerance And Peace
Our annual Giving issue returns as a reminder that we should show goodwill to all, especially the misunderstood.
Earlier this year when visiting Paris, I got into a heated debate with someone living in the City of Light. The topic: terrorism. The motion he put forward was that terrorism stems from Islam. I objected vehemently to such a sweeping statement. A week later on Bastille Day, a truck rolled through the streets of Nice killing and injuring hundreds.
Aside from the initial concern for people affected by the attack, the thought on my mind was that with another attack, more and more people might actually start believing in such ridiculous notions. Whether or not specific attacks have been linked to Islam or terrorism, a growing anti-Muslim sentiment can be felt throughout the world.
Coming from one of the more religiously diverse cities in the world, I just couldn’t fathom how anyone could be that close-minded. There are fanatics in every religion. There are groups of Christians that are some of the most prejudiced people in the world promoting and committing hate crimes, yet we do not blame Christianity as a whole. Why is that? Is it because we understand a little bit more about this particular religion? Should we not realise that the actions of a few do not represent the whole and that we shouldn’t be making such callous assumptions?
A couple of months ago, a friend said that every time an attack happens, he prays that it wasn’t perpetrated by someone claiming to be Muslim. In Singapore, we have the privilege of living among a wide range of people with different races and religions. And perhaps it is because of this that we understand that Islam is not the violent religion some people make it out to be. We shouldn’t and can’t give in to such fearmongering by the uninformed, because if we do, the terrorists win.
This issue is themed on the concept of giving, but isn’t limited to mere gifting. Giving is much more than buying a piece of jewellery for a loved one. It also extends to supporting those discriminated against and those who are misunderstood; fighting for a person’s right to believe in their own gods; and helping a person feel safe no matter where they are in the world.
So, as we enter the holiday season, let us show goodwill to our fellow men, in the words of former deputy prime minister Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, “regardless of race, language or religion”.