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Has violence become the Malaysian way of life?

Photograph: Lye Tuck-Po/Aliran

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It appears many others now negotiate using their fists and prefer violence and bloodshed to tolerance, negotiations, apologies and forgivenes, says Adrian Lee.

Everyday, the media feeds a frenzy of violence around the world: death and violence in the Gaze Strip, war tearing Syria apart, terrorist attacks in France and Beirut and shootings in the United States. Violence is part and parcel of our daily news consumption.

Violence appears to have become the only method to resolve issues. Or rather, the advent of social media and the speed with which technology transmits news exposes scores of violent incidents befalling humanity most efficiently.

“The world is watching” becomes the clarion call for a truce. Yet, scores of human beings continue being massacred everyday by terrorists or governments. Although the twentieth century with its two World Wars have claimed millions of lives, it seems that some cannot wait to trigger World War Three.

Malaysians are swift in condemning such violent acts occurring on the world stage by shaking their heads, posting online statements or displaying stickers on car windows.

Yes, it is great knowing that Malaysians are protesting the violence around the world, thousands of miles away in Palestine, Paris, Syria, Lebanon and even East Timor.

This shows that many Malaysians are compassionate and steadfast in stating that violence isn’t accepted nor tolerated and that Malaysians do not agree with violence for it isn’t the Malaysian way of life.

But does the above statement hold water? In Malaysia, violence is brewing in this melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities. It appears that not a week or day goes by without cases of road rage, rape, robbery, kidnapping, snatch theft, murder, cyber bullying, and assault being reported.

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Reading about the causes of these incidents is simply depressing. Acts to ‘settle scores’ now use deadly weapons even in broad daylight.

Nowadays, the act of honking may be erroneously viewed as an invitation to a fistfight. In certain instances, parking lots have become the arena of bloodbaths. It seems that there isn’t any room for negotiation; trivial acts may be seen as offensive. Even schoolyards have not been spared cases of violent crime.

Anywhere can literally be turned into a fight club, anyone may suddenly morph into a potential brawler; atany moment a fight could break out, and any incident could be seized upon as an excuse for a fight.

Whatever happened to the history that informs us how Malaysia was created on the basis of non-violence? It appears that our so-called ‘nilai-nilai murni’ and Asian values are no longer practised by this masyarakat aman yang bertolak ansur.

It appears that many have too much pent-up rage, resentment and frustration that break out into violent acts. Perhaps the rat race has driven our senses and conscience out of the door. Perhaps such negative feelings are caused by economic factors or political decisions that have raised many barriers between Malaysians, causing so much discontent and mistrust.

But again society isn’t faultless -with many being individualistic and selfish. Many violent incident stem from self-centred acts such as illegal parking, road hogging or being the neighbour from hell.

Most regretfully, many such incidences may be manipulated to sow racial discord and disharmony. The calls for a ‘moderate Malaysia’ are somehow turning into an ‘immoderate Malaysia’.

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So where have we gone wrong? The media, of course, become the scapegoat for supposedly introducing too much violence that cannot be fathomed by our innocent minds. If so, then the Censorship Board needs to be blamed for allowing such negative foreign influences to penetrate our borders.

And before we point the fingers at the police or government, have we ourselves contributed to or ever caused such violence? Perhaps it is more convenient to inconvenience others? Or to close both eyes when someone is in need of help or is being bullied?

But then again, leaders who threaten to slap their opponents, offer a reward to slap another individual or threaten to burn Holy Books aren’t exactly exemplary leadership examples we should follow. Oh right, these incidents were exploited by the media.

Undoubtedly, many Malaysians are peaceful and non-violent. Unfortunately, it appears many others now negotiate using their fists and prefer violence and bloodshed to tolerance, negotiations, apologies and forgiveness. Sorry does seem to be the hardest word as we steadily regress from being a mature and progressive society.

Do we dare proclaim that we fully respect the rights of women, animals and children and that they should be free from physical, symbolic and verbal violence? the right to free speech and religion, and a right to live in a safe and peaceful nation?

While we scream and condemn the violence occurring thousand of miles away, what are we doing about the increased violence in our country? No, these incidents aren’t merely perception but are real events that have taken place.

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Ultimately, Mahatma Gandhi stated that anger is the enemy of non-violence, and pride is a monster that swallows it up.

So instead of acting childish, conceited and condescending, perhaps we need to be civilised, courteous, conscientious, caring and considerate before violence truly becomes the Malaysian way of life.

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