Friday, November 21, 2008

Raja Nazrin: Mankind fails at community building

Mankind is failing badly at creating a sense of community and is instead allowing race, culture and religion to dominate discourse, Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah said today.

"When we think of social fragmentation as good rather than bad, something is awfully wrong. Our moral gyroscopes have gone completely awry. If we continue on the present path, great dangers lie ahead," he said in his speech at the Diversity Matters Forum on Diasporas in the Commonwealth held at Monash University, Sunway Campus here.

Raja Nazrin cautioned against falling into a "new and destructive form of modern day tribalism".
"Cultures can co-operate as much as clash. We need to reclaim religion from those who would distort its truths. We must reject radicalism and extremism of all types. If there is someone in my society who is hungry, or unemployed or sick and cannot afford treatment, then it diminishes me even if he is of a different race or religion," he said.

Raja Nazrin said multicultural societies are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception.
"Contrary to the rhetoric, however, it is not becoming a source of strength. Mankind is failing - and failing badly – at creating a sense of community. Instead race, culture and religion have become the dominant discourse."

Raja Nazrin said diversity is not only something to be cherished but is essential.

"I know this as an educationist for the store of knowledge does not increase until and unless there are differences in thinking. It is when there is stultifying uniformity that stagnation occurs.

"I know this as a Muslim for Islam recognises other religions. Islam itself is built on a history of myriad traditions.

"I know this as a Malaysian for what has built this country and made it strong are the contributions of its different communities. Malaysians of different races and religions have come together to put their shoulders to the collective plough despite their differences, something that many countries have not been so fortunate enough to share."

He said the idea behind multiculturalism is that countries with people of different cultural backgrounds should allow them to live a free life without being forced to do things they don't want to do.

"What characterises democratic life is that it is the person who decides whether he or she wants to adjust more and be absorbed or remain aloof. At the same time, the need to forge a community of people with shared values and interests remains paramount," he said.

Raja Nazrin: Mankind fails at community building
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