Sharifah Munirah Alatas
outlets, educationists and politicians need to wise up.
If we, in
Malaysia, want to reject the numbing effects of identity politics, please get
to the basics.
WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook world of communication exacerbates
miscommunication. There is no more excuse. Let us cease using the word
“tolerance” and substitute it with “acceptance”.
Before I am
accused of dabbling in mere semantics, please reflect a little.
usage of tolerance as a word, has suffered from conceptual error.
is a human value that orientates towards difference and indifference. It is a
passive and more abstract idea of interaction.
is an active value. In human psychology, it is explained as a person’s assent
to the reality of a situation.
there is no attempt at changing it. It implies growth, improvement and positive
development. Acceptance is an ideal that goes a step beyond tolerance.
A sign of
tolerance is “I can live with the fact that Hindus and Christians have the
constitutional right to practice their faith in Malaysia”.
you can tolerate Hindu and Christian places of worship without accepting it as
part of Malaysian identity. Therefore, one can tolerate something without
means is that tolerance excludes two human values. These are compassion and
understanding. We Malaysians consistently struggle with these.
in Malaysia Baru carelessly use the word “tolerance”. I hope more bloggers,
broadcast producers and editors switch to “acceptance”. It should be a word of
first choice rather than a sentence filler. Most importantly, social media
mavericks must perpetuate the trend.
minister, Maszlee Malik in a speech at the Unesco General Conference in Paris
last November, quoted the late Kofi Annan as saying: “Our mission, therefore,
is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation
with the outstretched hand of generosity”.
However, I would have preferred Maszlee (or his speech writer) to update his
knowledge of 21st century progressive lexicon.
It is not
good to be bigoted, but it is not good enough to be tolerant. All Malaysian
leaders on any international platform must resort to exporting acceptance, and
not mere tolerance.
I hope the
Ministry of Education will take note of this in their future endeavours at
upgrading the quality of our schools and universities.
affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin means compassionate
Islam. Islam is globally depicted as a religion of “peace, tolerance and
focus on compassionate Islam is preferred, though, for the Malaysian context.
Nevertheless, compassion will not be achieved without dialogue, understanding,
and both physical and intellectual interaction.
compassionate Muslim in Malaysia is one who takes the trouble to understand and
accept differences. They actively engage with these differences, be they
physical or ideological.
reading headlines, texts and social media posts about different opinions, is
not good enough. Compassionate Muslims should go the extra mile in
understanding why differences exist.
attempts at overcoming misunderstandings should not be done through cyberspace
acceptance and compassion to develop, we need to bring back face to face
interaction and dialogue. Face to face interaction may be old fashioned and
time-consuming. But it is basic, human and humane. It is the most efficient way
acceptance can lead to compassion. Furthermore, I suggest we drop the word
tolerance from all discourses associated with the concept of Rahmatan lil
I am not
suggesting that by merely playing around with words, Malaysia will miraculously
become a nation free of religious and racial tensions. We have a lot of work to
do. But a baby step forward would be to change the existing narrative.
advise the public to cease their gruff and vulgar approach when offering their
opinions on social media. Curb your penchant for personal attacks on looks,
dressing, hair colour and body parts. Use dignified language which projects you
as a person of integrity, not filth.
consistent. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. So, if you
cannot help your vulgarity, let it be gender inclusive.
Malaysians evolve from their patriarchal high horse once and for all? If there
is a need to insult a woman online by referring to her unveiled hair, it should
be just as natural to insult a man for his imitative style of Arab dressing or
is a virtue that needs to be inculcated despite the sea of differing opinions
among different races and religions.
diversity. It is ungodly to criticise His diversity in such a disparaging and
Headline: Acceptance, not tolerance
Source: The Free Malaysia Today