This is a time for faith

Let’s not depend on the government for directives and handouts. Let’s have faith that we as Malaysians can help one another on our own. What we can do, we do lah!

I WAS exchanging WhatsApp messages in the middle of the night with my pastor friend, conversing about the political, economic and health challenges Malaysia is facing.

So much frustration about political instability and hanky-panky, so much pain over Covid-19 deaths, especially of the frontliners, and so much anger at the hardship faced by that widow with children who couldn’t pay the RM97 public housing flat rent and is facing eviction.

It got so overwhelming we got on to quoting religious verses from Islam and Christianity. Ultimately, we had to fall back on the idea of faith in God to override all these uncertainties.

But then I told the pastor that I believe that faith in ourselves as responsible beings and citizens must carry the day, and that we can’t just depend on government policies and handouts.

Thus, in this week’s column, I want to list the faith we must all have as our best and most effective weapon against the issues that plague us in this country.

First, we must have faith in ourselves to help each other out in times of need.

Sabah needs so much help right now. I am not a hero or even brave enough to venture into the state with the highest number of Covid-19 cases but I can take care of any Sabahan by opening my house to those who need a place to stay because they are unable to go home or even if they just need food.

I have offered donations of money, which is easy to do. I have shared over WhatsApp and other social media platforms pleas asking Malayans to open our hearts and purses to our brethren citizens of Sabah. That’s all I can do right now. I have faith that each of us will decide to do what we can in the name of compassion.

Secondly, we must have faith that the top management of institutions and businesses will allow workers with families and children barred from school to work from home where possible. Don’t wait for the government to force you to do it, think and act independently, driven by your conscience and compassion for your staff.

There are reports of that employees with children unable to go to school or childcare centres having to take the little ones to their workplaces or having to burden aged grandparents with their care or even taking unpaid leave to cope. We must trust that employers and business owners have hearts larger than their bank accounts and will think beyond bottom lines.

Third, we must have faith in the goodness of all Malaysians, that we are willing to help children from the low income group that have to learn online but don’t have the necessary devices. I have given the woman who cleans our house one of my tablets and an old computer that I reformatted so her three children can use it.

We also must have faith that teachers will make sure that lessons for different ages won’t be scheduled at the same time online because many children are sharing devices to learn. Thus, we need faith in kind donors and faith in intelligent school management to understand the teaching problems on the ground.

We must have faith also in our bankers to open their hearts and reinterpret their profits by extending the moratorium on loan repayments as well as helping with other services such as offering a 1% interest rate short-term loan to tide over people who have lost jobs.

We also should have faith that the EPF (Employees Provident Fund) will not wait for government proclamations to extend to employees the chance to withdraw their own money.

Too much of the time we think with our bank accounts and bottom lines. There are no bottom lines in matters of compassion if one wants to pass the test of a decent and spiritual human being.

Waiting for politicians and leaders to do the right thing may not be an option for Malaysia at this time. The blame game won’t help, but relying on our own wits and ingenuity to solve problems ourselves collectively is a sign of a mature society.

This country belongs to us and her people are extensions of ourselves in more ways than we can think of. At least that’s what I understand from reading the many philosophy texts and scriptures available out there within an interpretive boundary not shackled by traditional thoughts. It is ultimately not just helping others but completing your own spirituality within your own idea of faith.

Finally, if our faith in our own people is exhausted, then and only then comes the spiritual faith in the divine. I believe that prayers and supplications are sometimes an insult to God because much of what we ask for we can just get by opening our hearts to others and sharing whatever few things that we have. Why should God do our work for us? What we can do, we do lah!

Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at UCSI University. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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