Tolerance the mark of mature culture

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2001, 12:00am

India's holy scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita , say:'Bear no ill-will towards any living being.'

Hatred towards anyone is hatred for the Supreme Almighty.

Discrimination is eating into the hearts of the people of Hong Kong, constructing a barrier preventing the cultures and people of different backgrounds from connecting and relating.

This prejudice takes different forms and includes sexual, religious, cultural, social and even political ideas, but racism is perhaps the most divisive form of prejudice facing Hong Kong today.

Racism is aggressive behaviour or speech indicating hostility between races.

I am from India, and belong to one of Hong Kong's many ethnic groups. Indians suffer from the prejudice of discrimination and a widespread opinion that people from southern Asia are unimportant - that we are some kind of second class citizens of lesser value.

Some local people are so wrapped up in ther own customs and traditions they are unable to unwrap themselves and appreciate the variety, colour and vitality of Hong Kong's assorted family of different peoples.

Apart from misconceptions caused by inept observation, some people seem ignorant of - even fear - people of different colour.

They refuse to accept and value the qualities and abilities of people who are different.

Some even seem to harbour feelings of racial superiority, pride and self-centredness, as well as the perception that their history, language and culture will somehow be destroyed if races mingle.

People suffer the ill effects of discrimination in places where such sentiments are so misguided as to be outrageous, such as when donating blood, renting a flat, in official offices or when confronted by police, airport security guards, in hospitals or even on buses if people avoid sitting beside you.

Some people experience insults when others make a big show of covering their noses as if to prevent the spread of harmful contamination.

And yet some say there is no immediate need to make laws prohibiting such vile and intolerant behaviour.

If such a law was enacted, then people would think twice about what they ought to do when dealing with people from different cultures.

Education can overcome such hatred; schools must teach the principle of respect and love for all people without distinction. We are a single community and this society is our home. All faiths, creeds and cultures lead humanity to the same destination and we should treat one another with love, compassion, humility and forbearance.

At school, in class, as we work, laugh and talk to one another, I'm aware of a wonderful feeling of involvement - a warmth that should form a community based on love passed on from family to nation and finally to the whole world. Forget and forgive in order to open a new chapter of love and brotherhood forever.

Nisha is a fifth former at Good Hope School in Sai Kung.

Graphic: perspglo