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Getting our priorities right

Last update - Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 01:50 By Logan Raju

One of the highlights of the Chinese New Year Festival fortnight in Dublin was the opening of the new Chinese Suzhou Garden at St Anne’s Park in Raheny, which was a gift by the Chinese Embassy for Bloom 2011. This brings to mind how multicultural Dublin has become now and the contributions made by the different foreign nationals to arts and culture in Ireland.

I recall visiting the park quite often and was very fond of the Rose Garden. The fresh air, the sea nearby, the friendly smiling faces stopping for a chat all made life soothing, especially when one missed home and family. This contributed to making many of us feel at home.
I was often asked where I came from and I enjoyed enlightening them with geography and history lessons. Many didn’t know where Malaysia was then, but mentioning Malaya, Singapore or Thailand helped. I made many friends this way and was invited to many homes for ‘tea’, offers of which I often accepted. I made so many friends this way. Most of the Irish people that I met always offered a friendly and trusting hand and many still do.
Even when we were students, Dublin was already home to many of us Malaysians. The people in Ireland were very easy-going and we were all part of this huge big family. Family and community values were quite ostensible.
Ireland has changed a lot since then but have the people really changed that much? And if so, why? What about the ethnic minority groups who’ve lived in Ireland for a good number of years, have a comfortable and good quality of life? And let’s not forget the less well off and the marginalised Irish. Why do we blame others when things go wrong? Always moaning, grumbling and looking for scapegoats. Was it the Celtic Tiger?
It happens to all of us: we get impatient, intolerant, consumed and driven by rage. That would be stressful to anybody. We navigate through a misty and cloudy mind and become bullies. Are we united among ourselves in the interests of those close to us, and the community at large? Do we prioritise integration so as to be part of a socially inclusive Ireland?
As a student leader I would confront any of my colleagues if they were self-centred, critical, cynical and not willing to participate in any activities that would enhance friendship and integration, as we from Malaysia were also from diverse backgrounds. The onus was and is on us to make sure we adapt and adopt before telling others what to do. Proper communication is so crucial. We tend to get complacent and disrespectful, leaving others to pave the way. This is rather detrimental.
Life is a challenge, and it is what we make of it. We have to be mindful of the purposes at hand and play our roles in life positively in the interest and benefit of mankind. We must get our priorities right.

Logan Raju is a Malaysian-Indian entrepreneur living in Ireland for 30 years.

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