Bro Charles: 'We must teach the young how to love and respect one another.'
KOTA KINABALU: The right culture inculcated in schools will go a long way in preventing extremism from taking root among the young, says renowned educationist Datuk Brother Charles O’Leary.
Stressing that hate and extremism were interrelated, Bro Charles, as he is fondly referred to said: “We must teach the young how to love, how to respect each other, how to respect nature, how to respect our environment.
The former principal of the La Salle secondary school here who served between 1969 and 1986 said educational institutions must do more to instil moderation into the nation’s mainstream.
He said as teachers had a vital and influential role, they should deepen their awareness about the values they should teach.
“If we pour out hate, revenge, murder, then, of course, there will be no peace. This is the great responsibility for our leaders, parents and teachers,” he said
Bro Charles, who is the last surviving member of the pioneer group of La Salle Brothers who came to Borneo in the 1950s, said any teacher who does not impart these values should not be a teacher in the school.
Many of his former students have gone on to become leaders in politics, government and business.
Among them are Sabah’s former Yang Di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmad Shah Abdullah and former Chief Ministers Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
He had also taught Sarawak’s ex-Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is now head of state, when he was posted to St Joseph’s school in Kuching for seven years before coming to Sabah in the 1960s.
Quoting the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, Bro Charles said: “People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Pointing out that there were extremists in most religions, Bro Charles said it was sad that they used God and religion for their own ends.
“They don’t respect other people’s beliefs and religions. They take their scriptures literally or wrongly interpret them,” he said, adding that there should be mutual respect for moderation to take root.
“Leaders are preaching unity but no one seems to be paying heed. We need to practise moderation. The concept of 1Malaysia means nothing if we don’t do that,” Bro Charles said.
He said the 1Malaysia concept was a wonderful idea but people needed to sit down as a community to reflect and have dialogues.
“The trouble is that many extremists do not want dialogues. They only want their version and they don’t want to open their minds.”