Despite all the measures taken by the Government to encourage and promote inclusiveness and cohesiveness in society, it is disturbing to note that instances of bullying with racist undertones rear their ugly head from time to time (Bullying wrong, cannot be tolerated: Ong Ye Kung, March 12).
The problem starts with the home environment because children invariably ape their parents in how they treat their fellow citizens.
Naturally, attitudes and values should be correctly nurtured early in homes and in schools so that children and young people learn to appreciate differences in gender, age, race, culture and physical appearances.
These are the core arenas where racial and religious harmony could be planted, nurtured and cultivated.
It should never be forgotten that all it takes is just one insensitive remark to upset the racial and religious harmony that we have carefully and painstakingly built up over the years.
With divisive forces at work in today's fragmented world, it is now more important than ever to cast aside our prejudices and work for a cohesive society.
Our very survival and progress is built on these tenets.
Though many people are less conscious of race on a pragmatic basis in their daily lives and interactions, there is still a real need to learn to appreciate the intricacies of living in a multiracial society such as ours.
It is vital that people of different ethnic groups, cultures, creeds and origins learn to not only tolerate one another's beliefs, lifestyles, social norms and religious practices, but also understand, appreciate and celebrate them.
Mutual understanding and trust should become second nature to our residents, so that ignorant fixed notions and negative stereotypes can be minimised.
Unhealthy manifestations of race and religion pull apart various community groups and accentuate racial attitudes and negative preconceptions.
One thing is clear: Racist mindsets, negative perceptions and xenophobic attitudes have no place in our pluralistic and diverse society.
V. Subramaniam (Dr)