The Frog Needs A PassportPeople don't get to choose which land they are born in or the one they will end up dying in. That is part of God's grand plan.
Naturally, where I am from has a lot to do with who I am and what I care about in life. As I travel around the world, I discover that every land is special and people have something special to share no matter where they are from. That is why I have decided to call myself a citizen of the world. Yet this doesn't deny the imperfect scenario that we have today. The passport that identifies my country of origin decides whether or not I can gain entry into someone else's "land" and to return back to my own. In reality, who did God assign each land for when He created it?
In this day and age, the most successful countries are the ones that are most tolerant and most multi-racial. If there's anything that I'm proud about for being born and raised Malaysian, it is the tolerance. Despite the bickering and name-calling that some people do, Malaysians at the end of the day are polite and respectful to one another - so polite to enable every culture to maintain its own tradition and celebration for generations. In many democratic countries in the West, the closest you can get to this is the assimilation of all cultural holidays into the main one: Christmas. As long as everyone is willing to switch the date of their celebrations to some time around December - then, their celebrations get noticed or mentioned. Not so in Malaysia. Every few months there is some kind of ethnic or religious celebration. May God continue to bless Malaysia with a spirit of tolerance.
Now that we've come this far, I wish people have the confidence to actually get to know each of those traditions as if it was their very own. Just knowing something does not mean that you are disavowing your own culture or religion. It can actually enrich you. You can actually open your eyes to the beauty of your own culture or religion, and appreciate it more. Alternatively, you might decide that your culture and/or religion is not what you expected it to be, and you would rather follow your heart in search of the truth that will enrich your future life. Who is to stop you?
In Islamic tradition, there were many examples of the Prophet Muhammad's companion who went in search of Truth. Such was Salman al-Farsi who left his princely life in Persia as a Zoroastrian, to dedicate religious service to a rabbi, then to the priests of more than one monastery, until he is finally led to Muhammad. There is a prophet of God - Abraham who had to run from his people for his heart no longer resonate with theirs and had only God to guide him.
Every choice we made is already known to God. It is best to seek God's guidance by calling on Him before every decision. What's in a culture other than centuries-old attachment to the ancestors. If they are indeed proven to be better than us, then we should emulate them. But if we find something more convincing than what they had, then culture is nothing but a means to solidify our existence while we are not yet confident in ourselves. Once we have secured our place as human beings on this earth, then the fetter of culture is nothing less than suffocation. We have God with us always. Let us look inside our hearts, and feel faith. Then, peace will ensue.
Let us be proud to be a part of globalization rather then shunning others. The more we know about others the more enriched we become.
Each of us has a unique way of dealing with various issues. When we pool all the resources together to solve problems or move ahead in nation-building, we are in fact allowing ourselves to evolve as citizens of the world. If we insist on policing who gets to stay on our neck of the woods and who must leave, then in the box we will stay. As the Malay saying goes "bagaikan katak bawah tempurung." (like a sheltered frog)