Friday, September 18, 2009

Hope isn't a bad thing

I started Ramadan on a slightly negative note by blogging that it could be the start of bad customer service so let’s see if I can end it on a more positive note. How’s this? The 1 Malaysia campaign just might have a chance after all.

There I said it.

But before you flood my inbox with comments like “you’re an idiot” and “I don’t like you”. Please give me the chance to say that I never thought it stood a chance but I came across this story from the The Star via AP while surfing Google Reader. (Free Hari Raya plug for Google!).

A great little story from Virginia of how members of a local Synagogue suggested Muslims come and pray in their building after hearing the Muslim community was looking to rent a place for overflowing crowds during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

On Friday afternoons, the people coming to pray at this building take off their shoes, unfurl rugs to kneel on and pray in Arabic.

The ones that come Friday evenings put on yarmulkes, light candles and pray in Hebrew.

"People look to the Jewish-Muslim relationship as conflict," said All Dulles Area Muslim Society Imam Mohamed Magid, saying it's usually disputes between the two groups in the Middle East that make news.

"Here is a story that shatters the stereotype."

Magid, who grew up in Sudan, said he did not meet someone who was Jewish until after he had moved to the U.S. in his 20s, and he never imagined having such a close relationship with a rabbi.

But he said the relationship with the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has affected him and his members.

Beyond being tolerant, the synagogue and its members have been welcoming.

Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, who leads the Reform congregation of about 500 families, said the relationship works both ways.

"You really only get to know someone when you invite them into your home ... you learn to recognize their faces. You learn the names of their children," Nosanchuk said.

What’s the marketing angle here? Well, can we just call this a stretched example of what the 1Malaysia marketing team needs to remember – people are generally good and want to live in harmony with one another.

So 1Malaysia should forget about the outdoor advertising or any advertising for that matter until it can come up with ways to actually physically show Malaysians you are in a real way delivering the 1 promise.

It won’t be easy – I certainly don’t have any well researched concrete ideas to offer here – but it can be done one small step at a time if the right people get behind it. America finally has a black President and one who so far has done nothing to suggest he was elected based on his race.

On that note,here's wishing you all Selamat Hari Raya.

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