The face of compassion

Breaking taboos: Syed Azmi (sitting, in yellow) with the rest of the organising team in Central Park, Bandar Utama.

JUST about a week ago, I donned a yellow shirt and joined hundreds of other Malaysians at Bandar Utama's Central Park at a rather interesting event - an event that has since garnered much controversy.

By now I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about. I went to rub shoulders with many different Malaysians and in many cases their dogs at last Sunday's "I Want To Touch a Dog" gathering.

And yes, it was really heartwarming to see people of different races gathered together, not just to mingle with each other but also to learn one fundamental truth - that more often than not, dogs are not wild creatures that'll maim you and drag you to hell the first chance they get.

I saw smiles on both two-legged and four-legged faces of all races and breeds, many from people experiencing a friendly dog in their face for the first time.

And in a day and age in which we have become admittedly more distant, and in many cases more polarised between Malaysians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, sometimes we need events that don't just break the ice, but challenge us to come together with a positive aim in mind.

Which is pretty much why I'm holding up the event's organiser Syed Azmi Alhabshi and putting him In Your Face this time around.

Because, well, now and again I read of cruelty directed at dogs by people who often frankly haven't had a real chance to know a man and woman's best friend a little better - be it a young boy throwing and kicking a puppy around or a wantan mee seller splashing boiling water on a stray.

There'll be the outrage, the cries for justice - but those cries will inevitably die down until the next case of abuse is splashed on our Twitter and Facebook feeds in all gory detail, of course.

So this is why, religious debates aside - I think Malaysians of all racial backgrounds need to well, sit down with a dog at some point in their life and realize something I learned over nine and a half years ago.

Back then, I met a cocker spaniel and from there, I learned that there's a certain measure of compassion, acceptance and kindness in our four-legged friends. I also learned that even when you lash out at them and torture them - they'll still come back to you with a measure of faith in humanity.

And from what I've seen, dogs don't care what god you pray to or what race you come from. They accept all comers with warm smiles on their faces.

The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.

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