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Friday, August 25, 2006

As We Turn 49: Objectivity

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Image hosting by Photobucket6 shopping days to go before 31st August, dudes and dudettes.

Life in Malaysia, as we know it today, could do with improvement. Sure, we have it a lot better than many of the more decrepit nations of the world, but who ever said that it's wrong to want something better for ourselves? Walski really has a problem with those who think that what we have today cannot be improved upon further. To Walski, to continually strive for excellence is not being ungrateful.

Of late, we're also hearing a lot about equality, or more specifically, how we don't quite have enough of it. And the official argument usually goes that Malaysia is not ready for everyone to have true equality of rights. Either that, or that true equality is a concept that the evil West wants to impose on us.

And lets not kid ourselves to think that certain segments of Malaysian society don't have it better than others. It's a fact. Sad fact, maybe, but a fact nevertheless.

And it's also a fact that we usually don't think ourselves as Malaysians first; at least many of us don't. Not while in the country, at least. No, we identify ourselves by what race we are first, then by what religion we profess (or vice versa in some cases), then and maybe then as Malaysians.

We're more prone to voice out about injustices committed against our religious or racial brethren elsewhere, while at the same time turn a blind eye to injustices in our own backyard. Close one eye, as some would say. Even worse is the thought that these injustices are warranted, to negate other injustices pre-existing.

Well, two wrongs seldom make a right.

Even worse than that, some of us even go as far as think it's okay to have certain injustices, as long as it's not injustice against me or against what I believe in. Kinda selfish, if you think about it objectively.

Which is probably what we lack most today - objectivity. It's unpopular, sometimes even dangerous, to really be objective. Just ask lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar how dangerous his objectivity in carrying out his professional duty has been.
(more dangerous objective thoughts in the full post)

For some reason, we've grown up to think that anyone who doesn't think the same way we do somehow hate us. And that everybody has to think the same way. Somehow the notion is that disagreeing with what we think or believe means that we're under attack or that we're hated.

Funny, really, if you think about it. The only situation Walski knows where everyone thinks like everyone else is usually only found in science fiction stories (like mass brainwashing rays, or an army of androids). Or in cults.

Cults have a strange characteristic of forced, and total, conformity. To belong, you have to think a certain prescribed way, dress a certain approved way, talk a certain accepted way, and behave the same way as the cult has established to be the right way. And the thing that cults simply cannot stand to have within their fold is objectivity.

So, the question Walski has is this: is Malaysia slowly turning into one big cult?

Don't know... But if it boils down to a situation where those who express their objectivity are given all kinds of nasty labels, or even worse, get prosecuted or persecuted for ther objectivity, then yes, we are on a path in that dreaded direction.

Objectivity doesn't mean that one has to be right all the time. To reason something objectively, could in some circumstances, lead us to a wrong conclusion. But more often than not, it doesn't.

And objectivity isn't that difficult to practice either. It just takes some effort, to be able to reason fairly, without the influence of certain in-built prejudices we may have. And it also means reasoning without being selfish.

So, as we trudge yet another day closer to the anniversary of our country's independence, just ponder for a moment if we truly are objective in the way we think and act. Or are we unknowingly behaving a little cultish at times?

Are we honest enough to ourselves to voice out any disagreement we may have, or do we just suffer in silence, afraid that we may be seen as non-conforming to what's "right"? And when we do disagree, do we feel that others who disagree with our disagreement hate us? Or are they just being objective?