Origin of inequality.

Inequality is conceived in the mind. I’m not a psychologist nor a student of psychology. But, the question of where inequality originates is a recurring one. In trying to find an answer to this recurring question, it dawned on me that inequality stems from the mind, a perception of others as inferior, undeserving, and of lower status than one’s self.

There is only one equal relationship that exists – the peer relationship ie. adult to adult, child to child and so on. If one sees others as having something in common or being within a group of equal peers.

However, other unequal relationships are often at play in our interaction with others. Parent – child, teacher-student, master – servant or master-slave…

Some of these unequal relationships may change and become more equal but others, like master-servant/ slave, employer – employee persist. It may be for always. There’s a set mentality, bordering on the caste system. A slave is forever a slave even if free on paper. Discrimination sets in. Borders are established on various grounds down to skin tone.

We know this apartheid to be wrong in principle but justify our warped emotions with negative generalisations, often more untrue. At the very heart of this inclination to discriminate, dehumanise and demonise is FEAR. Fear of the other whom we don’t know nor understand. Thus, slaves are slaves forever.

It is this ideology of inequality and inculcation of ‘unequalness’ that has driven the maintenance of an unequal status quo between conqueror and conquered, victor and loser, colonisers and colonised, master and slave.

Thus, the existence of systemic discrimination, institutionalization of apartheid, racism and xenophobia. This ideology of inequality justifies the denial of the humanity of those perceived to be of lower status and intelligence.

Systemic racism and the institutionalization of discrimination whether negative or positive has become normalized in our lives. The caste system becomes cast in iron in all its forms and variations. Thus, we live with inequality inculcated into our perceptions of the world and all living in it. We become the very instrument of what we know we should oppose based on emotion, the need for self-glorification and assurance of our acceptability in society, our ego boosters. We think of this as self-love. Who doesn’t need this?

It avoids the larger picture, the reality, the truth of our existence, that we live in an unequal world community that seldom wants to admit its unequal nature but lends much lip-service to the virtues of justice and peace.

Toothless tigers,wingless birds and armchair politicians

Look at us, my friends. There’s so much talk of how we might become a better nation, a better humanity, a better society…it’s just talk. When do we get down to brass tacks? When shall we walk the talk?

We want a more just world, more equal distribution of wealth, clean government, zero corruption (we will be in heaven then), our human rights and freedoms, equality and all those wonderful ideals we aspire to.

Coming down to earth with a hard thud! The reality of our human condition is so very different. It is difficult, degrading and dirty. It’s 3D, whether you like it or not. The bodies that are supposed to protect us, often persecute us, make our lives miserable, humiliate us. Many of us feel the pressure of being used and exploited by autocrats we may or not clearly identify. The systemic exploiter, oppressor and slaver. The inherent systemic cheats that spew toxic promises of better lives, bright futures, rich rewards, all in exchange for our blood and our souls.

The ‘do-gooders’ make deals with the villains calling it a democratic compromise. They must work together to overcome the problems of this era. What happened to your principles? Were they too difficult to keep? What are the best compromises to keep the people happy in hallucinatory limbo, suspended animation, waiting for something to happen. We’re waiting for Gordo!

We applaud at the publication of the promises. Yes,yes, we agree a hundred percent! Then, we hope, hope and hope… Soon we are treated to the parade of the toothless tigers, the guardians of our rights, liberty and sanity. Again we give loud applause! At last our rights and lives will be protected! They pass by with much fanfare and more promises of better governance, guarantees of justice to be done. The end of criminality, a slate wiped squeaky clean. No more dirt, no more slime… they disappear into the distant fog of the future.

Boyd by the last display of righteous promises, we turn to the next float in the procession – the birds of aspiration. Our aspirations soaring into a grey sky. But, when will they take flight? We are convinced by our hope that they will soar into a clear blue sky,one day. The birds are yet chicks, they haven’t got their flight feathers yet. But, our optimism still fuels hope, they will be propelled by great winds carrying them on wings of freedom and prosperity. So, we wait for the birds of our aspirations to mature and take flight. Always trusting in our choice of human masters who keep feeding our hopes with candy floss.

Over cups of tea, or whatever we choose to drown ourselves in, the talk continues. We engage in intelligent debate, in argument, in conjecture, in gossip, in plain speech, in criticism of our rivals, in friendly banter or sarcasm. Reassuring ourselves of the accuracy of our deductions, the rightness of our convictions, still munching on hope and optimism as we sit back comfortably in our deep armchairs as the politicians of the day.

When reality dawns, the armchairs feel lumpy, the birds of aspiration are wingless and the tigers remain toothless. The dregs of our beverages turn cold, the conversation buddies lie in a drunken stupor. It has all been a mirage, a dream in a matrix of virtual reality, nothing more.

We are our own rescuers, our own heroes, our own catalysts of change… break our addiction to sunshine promises, handouts, and narcotic hope. Disperse this hallucination of better tomorrows with single-mindedness to regain our truth, freedom and independence.

Pets don’t need clothes

Cats love my garden, they treat it as their territory. I don’t really mind except for the odor left by their pooh and other mess they make. I can’t do much about it. These aren’t always strays, they are my neighbour’s pet cats.

People seem to treat their pets like human children. I’ve seen a cat wearing a T-shirt or singlet creeping around the garden, not for the first time. I wondered how the animal actually felt about being dressed up. I saw a dressed cat once try to scratch its back but the T-shirt was in the way and it must have had a really hard time. Poor animal, how it must have suffered! Why? Oh why, did the owner do such a cruel thing to the poor cat? just because you see cartoon animals dressed in clothes, doesn’t mean that your pet is a cartoon character. Your pet cat (or dog) is a living , breathing animal that should be cared for as required by its species, not as a cartoon or inanimate doll to be dressed up and given a change of clothes like children. They have fur to protect them from temperature changes, they don’t need clothes in this hot tropical climate. Cats clean themselves, they don’t need to bathe everyday.

This went on for some time, until one day while trying to clear some debris of plastic bags, paper wraps and leaves that fly into the garden from outside on increasingly strong gusts of wind, I found two mini cat singlets at the base of a bush. Ah ha, I thought, kitty found a way to discard these ridiculous, unnecessary and torturous apparel! Good for you kitty, you’re not as stupid as your owner thinks.

Cats are pretty intelligent creatures. They’re independent, have minds of their own and often seem to make decisions. Some years ago, somebody was cruelly poisoning cats in the neighborhood. Cats were dropping dead in my garden, including female cats with newly born kittens. It was pitiful and downright disgusting. The reaction of the neighborhood cats, including the strays, was interesting. They would not accept any food offered to them, no matter how starved they looked. Now, that was simply amazing! It shows an unsuspected intelligence in cats.

I’ve never discovered who the culprit was but have my suspicions. However, I also discovered that poisoning animals, besides ones considered vermin, is illegal. Well, perhaps the perpetrator of those cat murders also wised up to that and the poisoning stopped. I’m so glad this inhumanity and animal cruelty has stopped but wish human beings would stop treating their pets like human children, that’s a cruel and painful existence for the poor critters.

Age of impermanence

Forgive this rather dark view, it’s simply how I feel today. We, our society, our world is in transition. The Age of Impermanence is here. How long it will persist is anyone’s guess. The world seems to be trying to find its feet, its balance, its stability, but keeps slipping on the banana skins of disease, environmental upheaval, economic and political crashes. Nothing seems to promise stability or security. No government or ideology can promise security with the freedoms and rights most of us aspire to. Many give speeches of hope but it seems hope is all we have. When will that hope become a reality, a fulfilled dream…Everyday, everyone has a mission. The mission to survive one more day, one more trial, one more struggle. When will we breath a sigh of relief to at last find rest, refuge and peace of mind, at least for one more day?

Impermanence brings forgetfulness. Friendships peter out into yesterday’s dreams, thankfulness diminished by greed, what works today becomes obsolete tomorrow, often for something less useful which satisfies for a short time. People seek instant cures, instant relief, instant satiation, instant food, instant obedience as if the human being were mechanized and moves at the click of the mouse. What have we become? We have dehumanized ourselves, muted our sensitivity, suppressed compassion, giving full expression to base desires, self-centered engrossment where there is no thought or vision for the future.

Trapped within the four walls of our dwelling spaces, we forget to look out of the windows. Scenic views are only for the rich. The poor look across into neighbor’s flats, garbage filled alley ways or oxidation ponds. The sights and smells of the slums. No light penetrates the dark dank spaces between the tower blocks of low cost flats ( now called ‘apartments’). The word ‘flats’ is unfashionable and politically incorrect. It makes no difference to the reality.

Climate change and all these looming disasters make us realize, how real impermanence is. The rotting establishments of yesterday whose leaders still cling to by their finger tips, living in delusive security, struggling to keep afloat in the storm of questions. The masses must know, they crave knowledge of the secrets behind official closed doors. Anger prevails at decades and centuries of deception by power mongers taking control of our lives. The world, the planet, is in its birth pains. It is a painful birth; will a wholesome child be delivered or one deformed by prevailing destruction and turmoil?

“Give peace a chance…”-John Lennon

Folks born in the 1950s and 60s may have heard this phrase in one of the famous Beatles songs popular in the 1970s. It looks like the 2nd World War, was not the end of the tragedy and misery brought on by dictators, imperialists and the colonial ambitions of governments. It seems, the beginning of a pathway, subtly beaten to incite more wars, despite the founding of the United Nations to promote and protect international peace and security among nations. Despite the pious principles laid down in the UN Charter for the preservation of humanity and peace, many member countries appear to ignore these fundamental good intentions. The United Nations is now more a diplomatic talk shop for governments, while wars, big and small, continue to rage in various places, generating refugees in their millions, fleeing to save their lives and children. Whatever, became of those wonderful ideals, so many governments promised to practice for the safety, security and prosperity of their people, for the good of the nation?

The dust of WW2 had hardly settled, when native and local populations of colonized territories started to bid for freedom and independence from former colonial overlords. They realized their own strengths and decided to take charge of their own homelands. They took responsibility for the fortunes of their own people. The change was welcomed and supported by the millions with hope for justice, freedom and peace, expecting their leaders to serve their societies with wisdom and justice. Where did it all go wrong?

Peace should bring prosperity and harmony to a society where, ideally, everyone equally enjoys the fruits of their labor. But, in reality, peace time seems to breed envy, greed, dissatisfaction, inequality and discontent. Earth is not heaven, so justice must be worked for, the absence of fraternity is clear and liberty of person is relative or just a pipe dream.

This planet faces obliteration and extinction as nations continue to crave control of everything they can get their paws on. What use is this on-going talk shop among the rich nations of the world? One block against another, starting another Cold War? Conflicts, big and small rage on, no one sees the elephant in the room…

Everyone wants ‘peace’ through the barrel of the nuclear gun, threatening to hasten the end of world, time and space. The era of the sage, where wisdom and learning, sensitivity and awareness is long past. Humankind has lost its innocence, it has become a whore to self-destruction, avarice, gluttony and all seven of the deadliest sins.

Yet, the clarion call echoes in soft and gentle tones, “Give peace a chance!” How many will hear or want to hear it? How many will add their voices to increase the volume of this desperate cry? The starving, the neglected, the enslaved, the besieged, the unemployed, the homeless, the stateless, the hopeless, the oppressed,the powerless, the voiceless ???

Weep, for the human race could soon be over, banished to oblivion.

Beyond despondency

Are the dark clouds breaking? Is the light coming through? Will we ever be ‘normal’ again, as we knew it? There must be a reason for all this…We can’t live without reason, without hope, without inventing a future.

Many positive things are happening around the world. Africa, the most challenged and besieged continent on earth may emerge the most creatively eco-friendly, outstripping the struggling ‘developed’ nations still wrestling with the dilemmas of pollution, destructive capitalism, deforestation, fossil fuel consumption and increasing mass poverty.

Covid 19 infection stats seem to be ebbing in places. Populations chaffing at the bit to ‘get back to normal’. Yet, we seem to be sitting on blow holes. one subsides, another blows up, lock down looms again. Discussions now revolve around vaccines, are they enough? Many begin to resign themselves to accepting the corona virus as a fact of life, “we’ll have to live with it”, “Won’t be so bad, just like the ‘flu”.

Is this the beginning or the end? The start of a “new normal” or the “end of days?” or even the beginning of the end? A friend sent me a “Good Morning” message, ” NOBODY CAN GO BACK AND START A NEW BEGINNING, BUT ANYONE CAN START TODAY AND MAKE A NEW ENDING.”

What logic is this? We can’t turn time back, but will our story end by sunset? Why do we want this to end, not begin? I find it hard to accept as I feel this phrase obliterates hope. Perhaps, we should be glad of the gifts we have today and use them for a better tomorrow. Create a new hope, instead of wallowing in fatalism, nursing the wounds of mistakes made and resigning ourselves to the rut in which we are stuck. If we nurse Despondency, it will grow like a creeping monster to bind us in its dark and depressing vines.

BREAK LOOSE! BREAK LOOSE! Find the silver lining. Crush the beast of Despondency! WE WILL DEFEAT THE BEAST, ONE DAY!

A time to break down

The Good Book says, “There’s a time for every purpose under heaven”. Look around, things seem to be falling apart, breaking down; established and traditional societal structures seem to be crumbling overnight. Our environment is caving in, nothing makes any sense. Through my pessimistic lenses, humankind is “Doomed”. Others, may disagree, taking all this chaos and crumble as the labour pains of change to be born. Not so soon, me thinks, may be over the next hundred years. I’ll probably be gone to ‘greener pastures’ then.

But if these are the birth pains of change, some have yet to realise the pregnancy. These that cling to decaying structures harking back to those “golden ages” of autocracy and absolute power. Wallowing in the nostalgia of days gone, eras of dictatorial mind-sets, when simple folk prostrated themselves before the powerful, treating them like deities, or aliens come down from the heavens? Did they destroy the planet?

Or change it to prosper, on their terms, driving to extinction the aboriginal inhabitants of this planet? Is history repeating itself now? The fissures are becoming noticeably wider.

When the storm is over, what will we wake up to, if we wake up at all? A desert, a limitless ocean with no land in sight? No safe port to moor at. Like dumb boatmen, we’re tossed by the waves drifting further and further into unknown waters where monsters lurk…hungry…craving for fresh blood and raw meat.

A time to break down, prepare for renewal, but remember who and what you are, or be swept away into the gaping abyss of slavery to the powers that be.

Thank you for your ‘Likes’

Dear Friends and Readers,

Just had a look at my notifications and was amazed at the number of “Likes” you so kindly gave my articles. I’m really touched. I thought my inconsistency in posting articles (more like opinions) would certainly make my readership dwindle into nothingness.

Things have been very depressing lately with all that’s going on here, in our homeland and in the world, so I’m sometimes just dumfounded as to what to say about it. Apart from having daily chores that have doubled because of Covid19, living has become more difficult for most of us ordinary folk from all walks of life. I should consider myself lucky to still be able to afford all my basic needs and no doubt a little more than many others. But, even giving any help we can afford, feels like only a drop in the ocean.

I often find myself looking for an ‘escape’ from these very sad and tragic happenings daily reported on virtually all news channels in the world. Environmental disasters have become another ‘common’ occurrence with climate change being more and more obvious. Looks like the voices of denial of climate change have somewhat reduced volume or are too busy trying to save themselves from these catastrophes.

Saying that, I hope this space gives some solace or consolation to you (hopefully to others too) and will assure you that we are not alone in our struggle to make sense of the current unpredictable, nonsensical, illogical, chaotic fallout of the pandemic and climatic upheavals.

In Malaysia, some of us have resorted to tickling the “funny bone” to show our feelings (“Lepas fras” in Malay). It helps psychologically to some extent, even if we’re not literally stating it. Our usual bottom line, “If you don’t laugh about it, you’ll cry about it”.

So, dear Readers, take good care of yourselves, stay safe and well. May the Force be with you!

Ribuan Terimakasih!

Do unto others…karma

At home and in my travels to other countries as a visitor, I do run up against unpleasant locals or permanently resident migrants who in their great ignorance practice discrimination. I believe that this is an experience shared by quite a number of foreigners who go to various places for various purposes. Racism and xenophobia are common in almost every country in the world. Most of the time we brush off these unpleasant incidences not to spoil our enjoyment of the wonders found in interesting places, or not to offend those who show genuine welcome to their native lands and pride in their customary hospitality.

The ignorant who choose to react to strangers in a prejudicial manner, are often myopic to the fact that their behavior doesn’t go unnoticed by the world at large. People talk to other people, whether by electronic means or face-to-face. Not forgetting videos on YouTube actually recording the incident. Gossip and rumours, now ‘fake news’, spread like wild fire. So, these persons who judge others on their external appearance, skin colour, ethnicity, perceived social status etc. need to be aware that their unpleasantness, prejudice, malice, racism or whatever else will be made known to the world at large. At times, they will also be pointed out to others to their detriment. If they are a business, the victims of their discrimination may inform a larger community to avoid them, so as to avoid being similarly faced with irrational, baseless, malicious discrimination.

Don’t imagine that what you do to one person, stops there. It doesn’t! Remember the warning in the Good Book, that what is done in secret will be shouted from the mountain tops. In this century, from the tops of telco towers, and telephone poles. It can’t be stopped.

Showing prejudice is like stripping in public, it doesn’t reflect on the victim of your humiliation, it reveals to the world what you are.

In the case of kindness and consideration, the giver doesn’t need to broadcast. A kind deed flows like a clean, clear, fresh spring to sooth and calm. These are also remembered and will rain blessings on those who act with love towards others. Goodness has its rewards, given a hundred fold and overflowing when the time comes. Karma will take its course.

The Stolen Election

About 3 years ago, we worked hard to realize political change in our beloved homeland. We hoped the ideals we believed in and aspired to would be made a reality. Elimination of corruption and racial and religious politics, economic and social equality, and the practice of human rights were high on our wish list. Continue reading “The Stolen Election”

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