What kind of nation do we want? Listen to our soul

Humanity has certain instinctive and intuitive values that allow us to discern right from wrong.

Nov 04, 2022

By Dominic Damian
What is the sum total of one’s personal liberty, of breathing the air of freedom? Would we accord the same freedom to others?

Our conscience must define who and what we are.

Humanity has certain instinctive and intuitive values that allow us to discern right from wrong.

We also have the knowledge of values acquired from the tradition and the social fabric of our parents, our ancestry, our faith, our families and friends and other loved ones, our community culture and our social acquaintances. We hold these dear and close to us.

We celebrate too the diversity of other cultural, ethnic or religious values that we assimilate and incorporate as our own. It is an appropriation that may transform us into complete persons.

Perhaps our most life-shaping and love-forming values are strengthened when we are struck by tragedy. Challenges forge and shape the human spirit beyond conventional norms.

The sublime nature of the human spirit may emerge from our endurance of trials and tribulations. We could become exceptional in accepting diverse thoughts, extraordinary in sharing, caring and giving, and exemplary in loving. Such loftiness in human spirit is never offensive and lives quietly within us, beyond offence to others.

In our world today, we find ourselves crippled and besieged by many constructed sensitivities. There is the never-ending paradox and dilemma in the categorisation of ‘the other’ – witness the Islamophobia, the China or India bashing, the labelling of the decadent evil West, the LGBT and blacks.

Each side believes they are right, that their position is beyond any inquiry that could lead to the betterment of society. We cage these inner feelings within us for fear that we may trespass upon the concerns of others or jeopardise our relations with them.

But if anything is not open to reproach, then it would probably lead to the regression, repression and suppression of the human spirit.

Some points:
If one expresses feelings about the infringements of China or India, all hell might break loose! It is immediately construed as negative. Those who have a religious, ethnic or ancestral link with either nation might rise in their defence.

Or they may point to a Western conspiratorial plot. We can expect confrontational and judgmental attitudes or even condemnation to arise.

If Islam is discussed, it is deemed as an exclusivity only reserved for adherents of the faith to discuss. Others may be excluded. It is the same with other faiths – we are incarcerated by an invisible prison of walls and boundaries of silence.

If the pros and cons of COVID-19 vaccines are discussed, those who make a personal choice are immediately hammered and labelled as “antivax” who should be denied access to the normal range of rights. Some good doctors may even be dragged to court and charged. The laws or justice may not respect the morality of conscience.

In situations like this, discourse or discernment is drowned by a siege mentality, a poisonous take-no-prisoners adage.

When transparent, respectful communication is neutered in certain areas, the integrity and independence of the soul’s liberty to use conscience is incarcerated.

If we truly are that which we claim to be, we cannot be disabled or destroyed by differences or disagreements. We must each be courageous about speaking up about rights or wrongs, no matter where they may occur. It may be in our front yard, backyard or any yard overseas.

Often, advocacy against injustices anywhere in the world is met with the retort that we should take care of our own backyard first.

But we should not succumb to inaction. Our inner selves must conceive, passionately and compassionately, that any injustice or harm anywhere is equivalent to a personal transgression against ourselves, like it was affecting our own families.

The neutrality of the soul may conscientiously request of us that if our faith or ethnicity harms or causes grief to another – no matter what the other’s cultural or political background or faith or ethnicity is – we must question it; we must challenge it.

We must not resort to insults or think we have impunity in the mistaken belief that freedom bestows on us immunity to injure another person. Such an approach would itself be an injustice, no matter how right we think we are.

Under natural law, we are all entitled to equality and humanity. We have a duty to preserve and protect innocent life with reverential humility and raise a conscientious voice of care.

The value of the blessing of an adventurous journey lies in finding our true self and in being selfless. Is this wishful thinking? Extravagant idealism? Or just meaningless and purposeless?

Each must seek to live a life well lived. This is an essential journey – lived through the lens of the soul. Such a struggle, futile as it may seem, may well be a treasure, a gift we bequeath to each other.

Now we are heading for national elections, let’s do some soul-searching.

What is the compass of our conscience that allows us to discriminate against another or even distinguish between us and ‘them’?

Do we reject the deceptive divisions of race and religion?

Do we reject corruption?

What are the values that guide us past the treacherous ideology of the thieves among us?

No one party or candidate must determine for us what our nation should be like or who we should be to each other. Will we be held hostage to the promises of paltry scraps and crumbs thrown in our direction as if we are so easily disposable? We must never be enticed to fight like street mongrels for the political bones of division thrown disdainfully in our midst. We are not slaves or serfs who should be subject to such perverse practices.

Even if our own lives are fading, we can always bequeath upon each life in this nation the most beautiful songs of hope encapsulated in our dreams.

Personally, I find the persistent, courageous voice in the wilderness of Haris Ibrahim alluring. His message is compelling and resonates with many, providing them resounding hope, despite the fragility of his health.

Can we not emulate his valiant spirit and selfless character in this coming election? -- Aliran  

(Dominic Damian, an Aliran member, is a poet, music educationist, composer, instrumentalist-vocalist recording spiritual and social songs – and parent of five.)

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