Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Marina Mahathir: No fresh start to 2012


The last year was one where there were particularly high levels of obliviousness. Why not, in 2012, for the sake of doing something different, have a campaign called “End Stupid Statements”.

IT’S 2012 and if the Mayans are to be believed, the world ends this year. For me, the world didn’t start well because we got up on New Year’s Day to dry pipes. No water in the toilets is not what you call a fresh start to the year.

Could someone make a resolution to replace the old pipes in Bangsar, please? Otherwise, we Bangsarites will go on a shower strike and stink the place out until our demands are met.

And, yes, our smelly mob will assemble in the streets to protest. For some other Malaysians, especially some students, the New Year certainly did not start well at all. It makes one sigh again with frustration.

Let us see this clearly; the only people capable of using force on others are the ones with the batons and guns. Generally, those aren’t civilians, and especially not students.

If this is the way the year is going to start, then we have learnt nothing from 2011, nor will we do anything new in 2012. We will continue to exhibit our fears by clamping down on those who think differently, or who are simply different.

We display our paranoia by immediately looking for who is behind those who think differently.
We cannot imagine that people can think for themselves, without someone telling them how and what to think and do.

It’s the ultimate indictment of our education system, that every single thing anyone does, especially if contrary to what the establishment wants, must be attributed to a sheeplike disposition to be led. Well, surely, if those who are contrarian are doing it because they are sheep, then those who are conformists are also sheep. After all, everyone went through the same school system, no?

The last year, for me, was one where there were particularly high levels of obliviousness among those who rule us. Oblivious to what people really think and want being chief among them.

Whether it’s deliberate or not, I can’t tell, but somehow there’s mild comfort in believing that it’s just natural gormlessness, and not willful blindness. I am hoping that this year will be a year of greater imagination.

It would be nice if our leaders suddenly had the imagination to trust their people to be able to think on their own. And to trust that people thinking on their own is not necessarily a bad thing, nor necessarily a move that will backfire.

I’d also like our leaders to start believing that their people are generally good people, who get on with one another and simply want to live their lives as best as they can. And they can do all that without any interference from those who think they are leading us. I don’t need anyone to tell me how to get on with my neighbours; I already do. I do need someone to tell off those people who keep telling me to constantly be suspicious of my neighbours, including when they are nice to me.

Apparently this is only because they want to dislodge me from my faith. In that case, my being nice to them must be equally effective at dislodging them from their beliefs.

Why not then have “Be Nice to Your Neighbours” campaigns? Indeed, why not in 2012, for the sake of doing something different, have a campaign called “End Stupid Statements”.

Every statement uttered by a public figure that simply does not stand up to scrutiny gets printed on a big banner and then symbolically thrown into a giant dustbin at Dataran Merdeka. My first candidate: Jews and Christians Are Taking Over the Country! (My test for the credibility of that statement is to ask: what for?). I’m sure it’ll be a full dustbin.

But what am I saying? We have an election to look forward to, which means there’ll be an endless supply of dumb utterances from all sides of the fence. We should arm ourselves with deflectors to shield us from the inanities that are bound to rain upon our poor heads.

Or helmets at the very least, because it’s bound to injure our craniums. But let me remain optimistic. The first person that says all Malaysians are equal under our Constitution gets my vote. Or who says, men and women are equal, or who outlaws child marriage.

And I’ll even give some grudging respect to the first person who says: “I lied, I’m sorry, I’ll step down now.” But I suppose that would be like expecting to see porcine flying objects. Life trundles on, folks. Try and have a good year!

No comments: