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.

Stock taking time

The time has come when the rays of life’s sunset can be glimpsed over the horizon. Age is just a number, yet one has to take stock to know where one stands. Why am I doing this? What purpose does it serve? For me? For you? for all out there, who may chance upon this record of personal history? This is the story of my thoughts, feelings, opinions, views, judgments, memories…

As my body slows down, and mind becomes slightly blunted, I look back and wonder, “What have I done? Is this of use to anyone?”

I have no successors, like a lone voice in a wilderness, only I know. It will one day be silenced in death. Yet, I’m not anyone important, I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a lone wolf writer, casting my lonely thoughts to anyone who cares to read them.

I know it’s too late to change, for there is peace and contentment in this solitary existence that I’ve lived for most of my life. Will I die alone? Do I care, if I do?

I’ve hit a trough, becoming familiar with what it means to age even though my mind still feels as inquisitive as a child’s, craving for adventures into knowledge and experience. The thirst to create something new, find a new way to make this world a more livable, peaceful and happy place, persists in my being. How can I deny this? This is my spirit which will live forever, even when this soul leaves its “mortal coil”!

“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!

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”

New normal or abnormal?

Since 18 March 2020, Malaysia has been under Movement Control Order (MCO). We’ve been staying home for over 3 months, religiously washing our hands, donning face masks in public, carrying and using hand sanitizer, avoiding large gatherings, and trying to keep a distance of 1 meter from people around us. We have become familiar with an often bandied term, “new normal”. What is this “new normal”?

At the end of February last year, we had a sudden change of government that literally sneaked in by the back door, displacing our legitimately elected government. Admittedly, our duly elected government faced problems being the government we expected it to be. It made some changes but dithered on some of the key changes the Pakatan Harapan promised in its election manifesto. The cost of living rose again due to the 1MDB financial scandal and other financial mismanagement and underhanded deals that had drained the country’s coffers. Citizens showed patience and tolerance in view of these hitches. We were prepared to give the new PH government a chance to straighten things out. We had also learned that we could change the administration if they proved unsatisfactory to most of the electorate. So, if we wanted a change at the next elections, we, the electorate, would have effected it through the ballot box.

Yet, without our consent or knowledge this back door government sneaked in, thinking they knew better than the electorate, not giving us a chance to make a fair judgment of our elected government at the end of its first 5 year term. Is this the ‘new normal’?

The new Perikatan Nasional (PN), as they style themselves, comprising 1 party that hopped to join those we threw out in GE14, began a ‘buying’ spree of MPs and party members from the PH political block. Is this habit of ‘buying’ the loyalty of ‘hoppers’ the new normal that they want us to adopt and believe in?

This hastily thrown together administration, didn’t make a better showing than our legitimately elected one, but made a laughably outrageous start with the PM’s One-man-show supported by an advisory council, instead of a Cabinet, made up of PH ‘hoppers’ and the same ‘rejected’ BN leaders relegated to the Opposition before this back door coup, for about 2 weeks.

Then came the MCO , dubbed the “lock down” in March, styled after the Italian full lock down at the time when Italy was clocking up one of the highest Covid 19 infection and death rates after China. Was that appropriate or was it a panic or guilt reaction of a “mandate-less” government? Yet, citizens again exercised patience and gave the “sneak-in government and hoppers” the benefit of the doubt. Since then, the Rakyat have shown an admirable tolerance of the unfolding shenanigans engaged in by this back door government.

The MCO was harsh in its restrictions on all resident within Malaysia’s borders but was also used to sharpen the agenda of the back door administration under Perikatan Nasional(PN) and its duplicate coalition Muafakat Nasional(MN), the difference between them is hard to make out.

As all who have resided in this country for long enough may realise, the PN agenda = BN agenda based on ethnicity and religion. Covid 19 seemed to present the opportunity to divert the Rakyat’s focus from their back door status to blaming the foreign workers, refugees and undocumented migrants for the spread of the corona virus. The resulting xenophobic environment incited by certain ultra right wing groups on social media was encouraged by administrative silence and inaction regarding verbal abuse, racist attacks and discriminatory actions against these particularly vulnerable communities. To make things worse, lock down measures imposed on areas with high migrant populations were cruelly severe. Immigration authorities aided the xenophobia by launching raids to arrest and detain undocumented migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers and foreign workers in places under EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Orders) classified as ‘corona virus clusters’.

Then came the crack down on our constitutional right to freedom of expression on the excuse of curbing “fake news”. Several netizens, a local internet news provider, NGO activists, and an international news documentary broadcaster and an interviewee have all been hauled in by Bukit Aman PDRM HQ under the Sedition Act and Multi-media and Communications Act (among other laws). Is this necessary? Or is it breaking a peanut with a sledge hammer?

Is the costs entailed in such drastic action justifiable and worth it? The cost in police time and judicial time, paid with taxpayers funds. Or is it just a waste of time and money, simply to create a sensation that we don’t need when we are occupied with breaking the Covid 19 chain? All the government needed to do was to use its RIGHT OF REPLY to straighten things out and peacefully explain the situation to the public minus the cost to the national purse.

So, is this the “NEW NORMAL”, apart from having to observe protection measures affecting our daily lives, so we don’t get fined or detained for breaching changing SOPs? These are also frequently unclear with the practice of double standards by authorities. The current situation looks much more like an “ABNORMAL” rather than a “new normal”. Welcome to the era of Covid19, the suppression of free expression, our constitutional and human rights !

The above paragraphs were written last year, since then management of the pandemic has become more heavy handed and chaotic due to the ambiguity of government directives that are unequally enforced. Double standards abound i.e. a lenient standard for those government ministers and elites and a more restrictive and tricky one for the rest of the population. How does one work this out? In conclusion, the “new normal” is nothing but chaos, arbitrary penalization of ordinary folk without real justification and more dosh for some crony coffers. Can it get any worse? Our fate is in the hands of the Almighty!

To be Old

In youth we can’t imagine what it’s like to be old. We sometimes lived our lives like there’s no tomorrow, squandering our time, abilities, material goods. Taking what we have for granted until we lose them or deplete them into nothingness. Perhaps, thinking that we will always be youthful, strong, alert, sharp and clear in mind, and body.

As spring turns to summer then autumn, youth fades gradually, the sparkle slowly dims, the whirlwind of life slows down. Tiredness and fatigue begin to dominate. Our worries and concerns change. In youth, we lived for the moment, believing we could take on any challenge. When we grew older we had to face the realities of our individual lives – the wider community did count, even if it was for our own self-interest, our own selfish ends, our self-centered profit and self-preservation. It was time to establish oneself, make our mark even if it was small. Self satisfaction was a necessity. The continuity of our line, imperative for most. But, for some to live for the moment counted more.

Then, pension schemes became necessities as time wore on in it’s daily humdrum routine. Some of us, plunged into adventure in youth, living like rolling stones that gather no moss but soon see a blank future. So, we hunker down into gathering some security in bank accounts to fall back on. Others bravely hope Providence will protect them in time of need. Time walks rapidly and we struggle to keep up with it.

Soon, the young ones seem to ignore us. Just beginning the cycle we had passed not so long ago, or was it? We notice the sagging cheeks, the crows feet at the corners of our eyes, the deepening lines on either side of the mouth. Am I looking back at me in the mirror? Who is the hag with the thinning, greying hair? The title “Auntie” comes as a shock! Get used to it, you’re no spring chicken.

We often look back on our lives, nostalgia sets in, especially with people we seem to have known for ages. The bitter-sweet taste of the past and the present. As we grow older, the past comes back like it happened yesterday, the present fades in our memory. We can’t remember what we just said or why we had gone to the utility cupboard. Is this the onset of dementia or worse, Alzheimer?

If I leave the safety and familiarity of my home, will I be able to come back? What if I forgot where I lived, and once familiar and routine paths suddenly became unfamiliar and strange? Where do I live, I don’t know…My grandma fell asleep on a bus once and went right to the end, she wasn’t sure where to stop but made a lucky guess on the way back. We never allowed her to travel alone again.

The aches and pains of body mechanisms breaking down. Falling asleep in mid conversation but being unaware of it. The more spritely take to optimism and look at the funny side of old age. To be thought senile may have its advantages, a license to act as you please, even if they think you’re barmy!

Don’t despise the aged, they have lived longer than you. Some have seen violence, fear, hopelessness, depravation, war… some are unsung heroes. Living by their wits, building a future for the next generations with hope and vision.

Youth like old age is transient, scoff not at the old hag or the hobbling old codger, bent like a question mark. Your time will come and you too will be that question mark.

I’m the Don Quixote type

I found myself, self-analyzing this morning. It occurred to me that the twist and turns of my life so far have led me to think of Cervantes “Don Quixote”, the man from La Mancha who imagined himself a knight errant on a white charger riding out to do good deeds and save damsels in distress. Although I don’t own a horse and probably can’t say I am that chivalrous or polite, I guess that it does feel like engaging in a battle with windmills sometimes, frequently ending in ‘defeat’, only for the moment. I’m no Dulcinea, patriarchy is something I don’t readily accept or leave unquestioned. Since I was young, I think my folks thought I was a little mad. I spent my time drawing and exploring my world of imagination, it took up most of my time but set me thinking about things from a different angle. Well, it was hard for them to understand what it’s like to try to go over the high wall of the known and accepted concepts of time, space and established practice. I wanted something more, I wanted to be free!

It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’? It’s hard when people don’t understand freedom of mind, especially when you’re young, fresh and ready to venture into the unknown. I guess, that’s the root of my frustration most of my life, to look beyond present existence and believe in something better or which could be better. So, it’s been nearly a lifetime of battle with short spates of ‘peace’ or ‘truce’?

I did things they didn’t expect and even in school, I was ‘accused’ of daydreaming during lessons. I wasn’t daydreaming as my teachers seemed to think. I was actually paying full attention, but one idea sparked a plethora of other ideas or questions in my head. They didn’t understand and often reacted negatively. So, I was relegated to Sancho Panza with his own dreams of greatness on a more materialistic and mundane level.

It didn’t stick. As in an old Energizer Battery advert, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” I was that stubborn and still am to an extent. Once on that road, there’s no turning back. So, I beat my own path, shaping my own philosophy of life, hitting numerous dead-ends and retracing my footsteps only to emerge somewhere else. Lost? Yes and No, there was another way, another world to explore, another adventure in this quixotic journey of life.

Age and physical limitations are not a hindrance when the mind can fly beyond the borders to any time or space it chooses. So, Don Quixote rides on to battle the giants, the dragons and monsters, to save the damsels in distress…

Will he ever return to his Lady Dulcinea? Probably not unless, he’s wounded and needs some TLC, yet there is hope of one day settling down or disappearing into the spirit world where he’ll continue his noble quest…with Sancho Panza, ever hopeful, clinging to his horse’s tail. Rest in Peace, milord. I look toward another sunrise.

Labour Day 2020 – Its lost meaning

The garbage collectors came around 4.00 this morning. While the truck waits at one end of the road, one worker goes round emptying garbage bins, taking out the plastic bags of household rubbish and putting them into a pile on the roadside. Continue reading “Labour Day 2020 – Its lost meaning”

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