Peaceful Co-existence among People in Diverse Communities

By Lokethar

We hear now a days of preaching by elders of diverse communities about promoting love and goodwill to avoid conflicts and maintain peace and tranquillity between people of different race and religion. Somehow in some diverse communities prejudices and animosity among the diverse people does exist to a certain extent. Some people tend to de-mean “aliens” whether citizens or legal residents, by referring to them in denigrating terms. For those who are loyal to and sincerely work for the good of the Country, it can be very insulting, even as a joke, more so because there is no ill-will on their part. Such “racist talk” can only increase divisions in diverse communities.
Peaceful co-existence
The way to bridge the divide is peaceful co-existence. People must be made aware of the need to coexist if the community as a whole is to “survive and thrive”. The basis of such coexistence would be adherence to the Rule of Law and norms of behaviour regarding social and economic relations. There needs to be a set of Rules governing such relations. These Rules have to be observed by all people in the community, irrespective of race, religion, culture and every body has to abide by them.
The authorities must be even handed in matters of governance. Whether people of diverse communities are citizens or are legal residents of foreign origin but of different race and religion, authorities must endeavour to treat all equally and not discriminate on the basis of race and religion. In fact nowadays every country have their share of immigrants whether from the past or at the present. The process of migration that started with the evolution of humanity will not stop. The migrants some how find “work” because of their willingness to work to earn their living. After all It’s no crime to work for a living. In fact by working for wages or a “consideration” arising out of a performance agreement, they are contributing to the economy of the country which accepts them. Hence there should be no discrimination as to employment or the conduct of business by any citizen or legal immigrant. Often denial of their “Rights”, may spark discontent which may grow and erupt into conflicts and out-breaks of violence.

“Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”
Favouring one community over another as regards economic incentives and opportunities can be the cause of conflicts as well. Any legal “grants” or “concessions” to any community should be regulated by the Government authorities to ensure that benefits arising out of such grants and concessions are enjoyed by the community at large.
Perhaps we can, if it is acceptable, delve into the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” (Panch Sila) devolved by the Heads of States of two biggest Nations of Asia and agreed to by some Asian States including Burma (now Myanmar) at a meeting in Bandung, Indonesia some seventy or so years ago. Drawing up on the wisdom of the five principles or the “Panch Silas” we can perhaps, as a corollary, formulate the five principles of peaceful coexistence among people of diverse communities within the country as follows:-
1. Mutual respect for each other’s way of life and religious practice.
2. Not resorting to degrading speech or violence against each other.
3. Mutual non interference in each others’ affairs.
4. Cooperating for mutual benefit.
5. Peaceful coexistence and abiding by the Rule of Law.

Each of the “five principles” could be elaborated depending on the situation existing.
These “five” basic principles and their elaborations should be agreed to collectively by the representatives of people of diverse communities concerned. The five principles and their elaborations should be upheld and practised by all members of the community, especially in the regions of likely communal violence between people of different race and religion.
With charity to all and malice to none.

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