July 30th, 2016, the Dewan Arif hall of University Malaya at the faculty of education was filled with people giving their attention to an Imam and Pastors, who shared lessons from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr on faith-driven social change.
This is the first event where I witnessed two faith groups coming in together to sincerely exchange notes on how to become better people. As we all know that both Malcolm and Martin help shaped the society to face our struggles today with social injustice, by standing up for the rights of their own people they stood for people who faced injustice everywhere.
Having esteem representatives from the community of these two men was an honor to their memories. In that moment we see the message of unity and diversity being practiced. Our road to humanity begins with building friendships with one another and that can only take place in a conversation.
We need to carry the spirit of “all of us” on a badge we pin to our hearts and throw out the toxic mentality of “me-them”. As long as we view people who are different than us as others than we have already lost the game of uniting any community. This is the legacy of Martin.
This event was only possible because the organizers do not play by the sideline when it comes to uniting hearts. I believe the organizers and each of the panelists on that day are proactive in building bridges even in their day to day lives. I have heard in more than one occasion people blaming and complaining about politicians, and officials for why a country such as Malaysia is so divided.
I would, however, ask ourselves to look around us and be honest. Are we doing enough to make the gaps smaller between our communities? If all we see around us are people of the same skin color, belief, and culture, then know that we are part of the problem.
Asking people who benefit from people being divided to change the social structure is as ridiculous as thinking we would fix the problem if we were given power and status when we’re not even willing to have coffee with someone who is different than us to learn more about them.
Social injustice does not happen in one big act but rather in small doses that build up. Our ignorance of ourselves and others are those small doses that build up the elephant in the room we are all uncomfortable to talk about.
To stand for anything we need to understand what we are against. Just like in the case of Malcolm and Martin we need to know what they were going against to understand what they stood for.
Living in a generation where people think quoting memes of famous people is enough to win arguments for their ego’s sake, the emphasize of knowledge cannot be stressed more. Sound bites understanding of anything should not suffice otherwise we will be a generation who have unlimited access to information at our fingertips, and yet will live and die in ignorance.
Malcolm stated that it was in prison where he felt most liberated. This is because he developed a love for reading while he was there. His knowledge is the foundation of his strength and why he was capable of making such a powerful movement during his era.
Knowledge is the key. Whether we get them from books or reliable people, we need them. From there we can exchange more notes about one another and how it is we can grow together.
I will share the video of the event so you may benefit from it too. Watch this space, God willing I will share the link here next week.
Imam Khalid Latif, Pastor Eugene Yapp, and Reverend Sivin Kit are true religious leaders that are worth following. Do check out their profiles and videos that are available online before the video of the event is up online.