This article was originally posted on TheEdge Markets.
One lesson we can draw from the challenges facing modern society is that it is important to minimise self-centeredness and greed and spread a greater sense of caring for others.
This is the spirit propounded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Madani concept, which touches on six values: sustainability, wellbeing, creativity and innovation, respect, confidence, and compassion. The gist of Madani is to care for everything, with the rich sharing their wealth with the poor.
This way of thinking is aligned with all religious teachings. Thus, every citizen should be aware of these ideas, appreciate them and do their best to support the Madani initiative.
Human beings are born into this world with nothing except the necessary ingredients to live a life that is based on intelligence and the ability to seek spiritual enlightenment.
As we grow up, we are infused with social, cultural, political and religious dogmas, all man-made, that polarise the intellect and psyche and contaminate the sanctity of the soul.
In the modern world, attachment to worldly affairs, artificial substances and the chase after materialistic goals is overwhelming whereas the connection with Nature has been reduced significantly.
People are assigned to categories that separate them according to identity, race, religion, gender, and social status. On the contrary, these differences are diversities that should be celebrated and should not be used to cause conflicts.
However, those who cannot reconcile these differences tend to spark conflicts. They build barriers of all kinds, living in blocs, and judging and labelling other groups in society.
If one cannot reconcile the differences among the various groups, can one at least remain at peace with their similarities?
To counter the tendency to focus on differences, we should remember the common qualities underlying all things. For example, we can dwell on the following truth: From where we come, there we go, i.e. to the five elements. Most of the time, people are not aware of the limited time and energy available in one’s life, but still engage in wasteful activities and conflicts. These take various forms, such as competition to be number one, to be above someone, to dominate, to control and undermine others and to monopolise things.
All these are achieved at the expense of others. Why can’t people think instead of working together for the welfare of everyone?
The root of these tendencies is greed. It is seen in the trend of the rich getting richer while squeezing the poor. Over time, this behaviour evolves into barbaric and corrupted mentalities. Such persons take from those who do not have enough and give to those who already have too much, thus contributing to global issues and plights like famines, poverty, and civil wars.
The ideal way is to take from those who have too much and give to those who do not have enough. This includes caring for the environment that closely affects our livelihood and well-being. This fact is in line with the understanding of science today, especially quantum physics, which holds that basically all atoms and fields in this mortal world are correlated, so the relationship between human beings and nature is entangled.
Man should use his creativity and innovation in a balanced manner to establish harmonious coexistence with Nature. Only this mutual respect for everything around us and the practice of navigating through life’s activities with confidence and faith as responsible, compassionate, and full-fledged cosmic citizens will ensure that true peace and sustainable well-being prevail.
Professor Raymond Ooi is an Academy of Sciences Malaysia Fellow and Professor at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya. The views expressed are the author’s own and does not reflect the views of ASM and TheEdge Markets.