Fundamental law of nature

Collective happiness: Let us learn to live together, be knowledgeable about our interdependent nature, says the writer. –

GIVE this a serious thought: every parent only wants happiness for their children. At the top of their list, before dying, would be to see their children and grandchildren living well. They want to know that their children and grandchildren would be able to survive on Earth. They would want them to grow up in a safe, happy and helpful environment.

Every parent, regardless of ethnicity or religion, wants life to be as merciful to their children as possible. Parents have gone through a full life and they know that life is not a bed of roses. They know that their children will have to go through a lot of challenges, hardships and sorrows. Yet, their own lives have taught them that there is also happiness, successes and ease. If we train ourselves to think, use common sense and think compassionately, we will see the many truths and fundamentals of life that can guide our living.

For instance, common sense will tell us that it is not possible for a person to be wholesomely happy if there is no “collective happiness” in the community. How can we be happy for example, when there are people dying all around us due to war? Our family could be the next casualty. If you are the only wealthy family in a town of poor and downtrodden people, how safe can you and your family feel? Hence, within the idea of “collective happiness” are many things, including the intrinsic notion of sharing.

We have to share. This is one of the fundamental laws of nature. You do not need a university or religion to teach you this. This is basic knowledge which we will realise only if we allow ourselves to.

We have to ensure that there is a just and efficient distribution of a nation’s resources. There is enough for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed. And for that we need leadership like a responsible parent caring for their children – not the selfish, egotistical and narcissistic types.

Secondly, we have to ensure that there are equal and fair opportunities for all children.

Have we created the best possible laws that increase the nation’s collective happiness? Our political leaders may lack the vision but as responsible citizens we have to rethink if our laws are “human friendly” – do they make us lesser than human or better humans?

Discrimination, for example, is cruel and frustrating. In the long run, it will only ferment collective misery for everyone. Hence, laws, processes and policies should create opportunities that encourage talent, interest and commitment to grow. This would be collectively beneficial for the nation as a whole.

Thirdly, we are in urgent need of compassion. Naturally, we would not like our own children to be humiliated or oppressed simply because of their colour, nationality, ethnicity or religion, right? Even if someone else’s children are illegal immigrants, we should never use the fact of accidental circumstances to excuse cruelty and a lack of compassion.

Would the fact that they may be of a different religion or ethnicity or even nationality be just reasons for them to be treated as less than human? Do we honestly think that the laws of nature will be on our side if we hurt each other as human beings? Many times, due to ignorance, arrogance or ingratitude we do not realise that we oppress, humiliate or deprive others of what they deserve as a human being. No one likes it. Hence, we should not do unto others what we do not want others to do unto our own children.

Even as a lawyer, I cannot accept the attitude of some human beings who hide behind the law or accidents of birth to live shamelessly on Earth. Our behaviours speak louder than the religion we claim to profess or the culture that we may be proud to embrace. We need to infuse compassion into every aspect of our governance before we lose our humanity.

Fourthly, as we teach our children to have dignity as human beings, we need to instil that awareness in our citizens. This is a huge task that requires political leadership that is courageous and visionary.

Political patriotism generally creates an undignified citizenry if practiced rampantly. Dignity includes values such as integrity, honesty, and a sense of self-worthiness. This requires policies that concerns education, employment, distribution of resources and so on. Citizens in a culture that considers free handouts as equivalent to beggary, for example, would be more productive and diligent. A culture that holds human dignity as a virtue will abhor corruption except by the most undignified.

We have to understand that God or natural laws will not save a nation from ruin if it shames and oppresses its own children. We only need to look at the long human history to realise how many so called “great” civilisations vanished when their citizens behaved less than the best a human can be.

We have to move away from the superficial thinking that is being fed by the mainstream. In this country, unfortunately, the mainstream is determined by the politicians. We have to start rethinking again. We have to feel, be grateful to life and learn to appreciate the laws of nature. We cannot take this world with us when we die.

So let us do everything that will make our collective lives better and avoid everything that will make us miserable. Let us learn to live together, be knowledgeable about our interdependent nature and the way the natural laws of life work. Natural laws do not discriminate based on ethnicity or religion – there is enough evidence of this. Hence, let us not contravene that law to our painful and regretful detriment. Accept life, appreciate it, contribute positively if you can, experience it and just pass on.

Senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos is the founder and chairman of Yayasan Rapera, an NGO that promotes community-based learning activities and compassionate thinking among Malaysians. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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