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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

As We Turn 49: Sink or Swim

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Image hosting by Photobucket9 shopping days to go before 31st August, race fans.

After next Thursday, there will be one whole year before our nation reaches yet another important milestone - when we turn 50.

A lot can happen in a year. Heck, a lot can happen in the time taken to finish reading this sentence even. And in one year, a lot can also not happen. It all depends on us.

But first, we need to decide what is it we want.

Do we want to head towards becoming truly a progressive nation? A nation that's respected, not just by those nations currently in the pits of hell, as far as human and infrastructural developments are concerned. No, Walski for one, would like us to be a respected nation by any and all nations.

Or do we want to not be a progressive nation? One that constantly shoots itself in the foot, not able to take a proper step towards growing up. One that thrives on myopia, tolerance of substandard behavior and attitudes, and on keeping the status quo, knowing damn well that said status quo is really going to get us nowhere fast.

In many different ways, Malaysia today is at a multitude of crossroads. We aspire to be an example to the world, yet the very things we preach to others we sometimes neglect at home. Be it because of the natural human trait of selfishness, or beause we fear treading new ground... who knows, really?

But any journey begins with baby steps. And even before our first baby step, we need to look at ourselves in the mirror - objectively - are we ready?

Yes? No? If no, then when? Tomorrow? Next week? Ever? Never?

A long time ago, Walski was afraid of the water, but at the same time was very envious of those who could swim up and down the length of the swimming pool with such ease, it seemed. Then it dawned upon Walski - the first step towards being able to swim is to get one's feet wet. And getting one's feet wet meant overcoming Walski's fear of water.

The unknown is always scary. More so when we imagine all sorts of bad things that unknown may reveal. But if the unknown remains unknown, how are we to know if our fear is justified, or whether it is simply the fear of that unknown that we're scared sh*tless of.

The decision, in the end, is our own to make. If we want to swim, we damn well better learn how to - fast. Sinking is easy - you don't need to do a damn thing - gravity takes care of that naturally. And in extreme cases, you don't even have to be in the water to sink.

So it all boils down to this very simple, almost juvenile, question - sink or swim?