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MH370 tragedy has spiritual lessons

A media conference on the MH740 in progress - Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

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The realities of the search have brought home a vital point: truth is not hidden in a narrow ideological setting but is discovered from an attitude of the heart that is always open, says Ronald Benjamin.

A media conference on the MH740 in progress - Photograph: themalaymailonline.com
A media conference on the MH740 in progress – Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

The mystery of the missing airplane MH370 has permeated the minds and hearts of Malaysians, who are still wondering what could have happened to the missing jet, which disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

Our hearts go out to the suffering families who have to go through a daily state of affairs that is difficult and vague, with no definite answers about the fate of their loved ones. It has been more than a month, and investigators have been going through a complex web of data to determine the truth behind this tragedy, with the cooperation of 26 nations.

Their task is not as simple as the critics, with their own theories, make it out to be. It involves reflective, meticulous, and skilful gathering of complex data that requires a lot of human communication and patience. For example, the signal (‘pings’ as they are called) from the black box are not easily detected because of the complex frequencies of sound present in the ocean.

This episode has clearly shown the deep underlying spiritual reality that even with advanced technology, the search for the truth is not as clear-cut as connecting a simple jigsaw puzzle. It involves not only an understanding of scientific truths, but also a spiritual attitude of humility, to accept that we do not have all the answers in life. We have to be open to understanding the complexities of nature by gathering more information.

These realities have brought about a vital point: truth is not hidden in a narrow ideological or theoretical setting, but it is discovered from an attitude of the heart that is always open to truths from the unknown realities of day-to-day living. It reflects a spiritual significance that God cannot be contained in any framework but is a mystery to be encountered with an open mind and heart.

It is important to understand this in the context of Islamisation in Malaysia where influential religious elites, backed by politicians, tend to interpret events strictly from their self-seeking understanding of religion. They then try to impose their ideological beliefs on others.

The MH370 tragedy has shown how important it is to work with nations who might not share our ideological or religious inclinations; but have a common desire to search for the truth about a mysterious situation. It has also us the importance of compassion – in this case, towards the families affected.

The nations involved in the search for the ill-fated plane are mainly non-Muslim nations whose only desire is to help another nation in need. The shared understanding of the objective truth that solidarity and compassion is more important than territorial disputes has taken precedence.

But the endeavour is not without difficulties due to sensitive military data, overlapping sovereignty claims of the ocean paths, and communications hurdles. In this tragedy, Hishammuddin Hussein has shown spiritual compassion by humbly empathising and relating to the suffering families. He has demonstrated that he is capable of solidarity with ‘the other’ by transcending the ethno-centric behaviour of the politics of Umno. In this situation the well being and the reality of ‘the other’ has taken precedence.

Can the right wing elements that appear to be holding sway in the party and certain ethno-centric politicians from the opposition (Pakatan) parties take heed of this tragedy and adopt an approach that expresses solidarity with their fellow Malaysians?

The MH370 tragedy should compel Malaysians to come together and reject the narrow-minded ideologies of the religious elites who are dividing this nation with their obtuse ideological interpretation of religion and limiting the truth.

The understanding of an all-powerful God cannot be pigeon-holed into narrow ideologies; it takes a life-long journey to discover him. This life-long journey calls for us to be in solidarity with our fellow human persons. The mysterious disappearance of the flight and the complexities of the investigations and operations offer a significant spiritual lesson for the nation.

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