By Lynn Hor
Imagine a world where unity is preserved. A driving force for a harmonious land of unending peace, where acceptance of our differences overrules tolerance, and the peoples’ love and understanding for one another lends respect to every human being. Will racism always be a one of the barriers and the reality that we face, leaving a place like this to only exist within the realms of the paracosm that is built in our minds?
“United we stand, divided we fall.”
When we choose unity, it has the power to bring a fragile nation together and the ability to transform it into a living fortress. It becomes an extraordinary weapon that can propel a movement of change when we stand together as one, with the right determination, mindset, and most of all the right posture of our hearts. However, if we choose to continue staying divided, the potential for the width of the chasm between people to widen increases. Thus, a nation shaken and splintered by feuding will start to fall apart.
While many sincere hearts do strive for unity on this dangling blue orb, freckled with hues of greens that we live in, there is more of evil, hatred and vengeance, always lingering between the shadows, waiting at every nook and cranny to divide and polarize. Especially during times like these, with so much lingering fear and uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed an uptick of racially-charged speech online in our country.
While many of our Malaysian netizens are partaking in showing support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we are also reminded to look at the events of racism happening on home grounds as well. With the fear and frustration that many carry within them, they can easily manifest into a culture of calling out others, such as hate speech vilifying racial groups on social media platforms.
These opinions can be dangerous as they can come from a place that either fuels their self-righteousness, or is rooted with hate, taking on any chance to point out where the other man falters and stumbles without understanding the circumstances. Instead of putting in the effort of unifying each other, edifying people through education, they have twisted the portrayal of aggression as “passion” and self-centeredness as “being an activist”.
The former U.S. President Barack Obama had spoken against call-out culture. He expressed that “there is this sense in people sometimes that the way of me making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people’… and that’s enough.” “That is not activism, that is not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”
If we do not check our hearts and continue down the spiral of racial discrimination, change will never be made. Hence, this shows that we are probably not going to progress forward as a society, but taking a step backwards where the notion to achieve unity is now planted further away from our grasp and our sights.
“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge.
It requires no accountability, no understanding.
The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.
It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”
― Bill Bullard
Racism has been around for a long time, and it seems as though there is no apparent cure for it. We are not born with it, but it has been subconsciously embedded within us for many generations. With that being said, we can start to make a change by taking the first step towards unity, which is to gain some level of understanding from the opposing views of different races’ cultures, beliefs and their circumstances through respectful conversations.
By listening and understanding our differences and the views of those that we oppose, we may not walk away agreeing, but we will definitely leave with a better and broader understanding of each other’s tapestry of perspective. From this encounter, we start to take a step towards having empathy. As our emphatic minds begin to open up, our assumptions are challenged and our prejudices that we have about others can be unlearned. Once we have empathy, then that can lead us a step closer towards unity.
Multiculturalism is such a unique and beautiful part of our country which highlights our diversity. Unity is not about coming together to be the same as everyone else. It is about seeing one another as equals and also understanding that we are different; it is accepting and honouring those differences, be it race, religion, the colour of skin or even opposing views; while embracing our diversity and standing together in solidarity as a nation.
We need to unite now more than ever to see the light through the grey film of this overcast. We can all do our part to work against racism, to educate ourselves and learn from each other to become better as people and as a community; and walk the road to unity together, one step at a time.
“I see no color” is not the goal.
“I see your color and I honor you.
I value your input.
I will be educated about your lived experiences.
I will work against the racism that harms you.
You are beautiful.
Tell me how to be better.”
That is the goal.
― Carlos A. Rodriguez