Thursday, July 15, 2010

Instilling Lawlessness

A couple days ago I nearly had an accident. Unlike my drift-like experience of sliding and spinning the car 360 degrees a couple of time on oily mountainous winding road which was entirely of my fault, this time it happened in a dry crossroad with fancy traffic lights. The light was green and it's my turn of driving when suddenly a group of dare devils on cub motorcycles with a teenage girl in an outfit borrowed from her 6-year-old sister started to race right there before me. It seemed the red light was actually a starting light for these unstoppable menaces.

And frankly speaking, I had enough. And to those who consider themselves as the guardians of the society, please step up to the plate. Do sweat it out. Pump up your muscles, be trigger happy or whatever. Please instil some fear in the heart of the lawless. Give some hope to the law abiding citizens. Please don't let us run amok and unleashed the ghost rider inside of us. The people are getting tired. What are we trying to show to our next generations? Do we want them to see that you can do whatever you want and get away with it? A little adrenalin rush to fill the void and a little free sex won't hurt. We are here to enjoy and enjoy until someone else beat us to the yellow light chase. And he's the one that get to live to talk about it.

When I was teaching at a learning institution, a student of mine lost his father to street racers. His father was riding his motorcycle and was on the right side of the road when two turbo-charged Mitsubishi cloned Protons raced in the expense of his life. There is something not quite right in the lands of the Malay. Some are reluctant to say anything about it. Some are trying to make believe that things are not that bad and people are just exaggerating. We seldom look to the West as a comparison to what we have or should have. Are we getting the end result like some in the West are facing now? Do we want gangs to rule the street? God help us if our teenagers started to form gangs and scared us out of our own neighbourhood.

Whenever the street demons aka Mat Rempit were racing and acted like they owned the road, men in uniforms were nowhere to be seen. Other law-abiding citizens have to make way for them to have fun while endangering themselves and others. I'm trying not to overgeneralize this problem as a national thing, but it seemed as all part of the lands of the Malay are being plagued by them. I'm just referring to my own small part of the world, somewhere in the land where the great leatherback turtles once flocked in the hundreds to nest. With the turtles gone, the fancy stunt boys won't help much with the identity of the state. It is disturbingly funny when the more we are putting the effort and money in the quest of excellent, social illness is not showing any sign of recovering. Are we giving the right emphasis or missing a very important puzzle to complete the beautiful picture we're hoping of completing? Can we give the right adequate focus while addressing things at hand, one at a time after the other? Do we need a more holistic approach? Or is it just we are lacking of certain religious understanding and with it, the self-control mechanism that is motivated by pure faith in Allah? Are we really being honest with ourselves?

Do we expect our teenagers will eventually understand who they really are like we once did? Are we giving them the right examples or confusing them with our inability to walk the talk? How do we balance the ugly side of extreme interpretations and our liberal side that would give the right signal to our teenagers so that they would be as free as a bird without limits of conquest and fulfilling everything that comes across their mind with responsibilities and self control? Islam has the better answer. It is the middle of two pulling extremes in doing things, especially in problem solving. Do we still believe in its solution? Or are we being too modernized with Western ideas that are not easily fitted in our Eastern ways? Although it must be admitted that all civilizations have their own unique values and strength, copying or accepting everything without filters would be disastrous for a copycat. Sooner or later, the misfits won't be just one or two isolated cases. They would be in hundreds and even thousands. Are we going to react seriously when it is already all too late?

A friend of mine said that he is trusted to produce a 100% passes for the subject he is teaching, in a class of those who have the capability of reading and writing of a 4-year-old toddler (not the crème de la crème class and 8 years older, of course). How is he going to do that would really be a riddle for teachers. Being teachers nowadays are not like it used to be. Increasing demands and higher expectations with lesser this and that really put a teacher to the test. In one instance I remember, the female teachers were even asked to do a body search on female students to make sure that they are actually menstruating for not performing the Zohor prayer in mass at a school before going back home. Luckily, no teachers end up as the sacrificial lambs when things go wrong. Was it Islamic or do we really need to go to that extent would be another debatable issue. Can't we just put them in a room for a nice heart touching lectures or positive answering and questioning sessions while waiting for their friends to finish up their mass prayer? Or is it something too much to ask of doing things in a gentle manner instead of being like the Gestapo? Maybe some have never even heard of the word 'Gestapo' before but sometimes, their manners in dealing with fragile youths in the name of education confused the minds that they are trying to shape and nurture. The mistakes in handling such irreplaceable treasures are manifesting themselves nowadays. The Malays that were known for their shyness and gentle ways are now known as Mat Rempit and Minah Bohsia. They are rejecting the values of the society that seemed incapable of understanding their needs and alienated them in the first place.

Having said that, too much freedom and being too benign is not that helpful either. There is a Malay saying regarding this issue, 'Melentur buluh biar dari rebungnya' or 'To bend the bamboo we must begin with its shoots'. Are the parents failing in their responsibilities? Are the teachers playing their part hard enough? Or are they only good at blaming one another? What about the society? Are we becoming lesser and lesser Easterners and more and more foreign in our own homeland so that we would be accepted as equals by the rest of the part of the world that is seen by us as more sophisticated and modern? Should not we be ourselves? Yes, we do have our own strength but it is being weakened by wrong implementations and confusing targets. With the corrupted are being hailed as heroes of democracy and transparency, a very dark road lies ahead of us. No one seemed to be ashamed of bowing to his masters’ fancy each time the supreme masters felt intimidated by his frivolous efforts in the intense current power struggles in the lands of the Malay. The light at the end of the tunnel is still out of sight for us in the lands of the Malay. And the Malays are divided than ever. They have forgotten about Fiji.

The political situations we're currently having do have some significant influence in the well-being of the society. There are two elements that determine the conditions of the society; the ulama' or the wise men of religion and the umara' or the political leaders of the society. They are the clear indicators of the health of the society. How they carry themselves, their personas and focus, greatly influence the conviction of the society. If the ones that are supposed to be an exemplary living module to be followed are not up to the par, should the lowest level of the society or the pariahs, even if the Malays don't actually have one, behaved better than they are expected?

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