Thursday, April 24, 2014

When the world turns upside down




 http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Musings/Profile/Articles/2014/04/24/When-the-world-turns-upside-down/

Common courtesy has been poisoned by those with nothing better to do than to think of endless ways to be rude to others.

IN recent times I have felt like Alice in Wonderland. In Lewis Carroll’s tale, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and suddenly the whole world is turned upside down
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She either becomes too small or too big, and all the odd characters around her speak in riddles. The world of Wonderland is a very puzzling place.

The world I live in too has become a very puzzling place. Things mean differently from what they used to, and reason and logic are no longer what they were.

Once upon a time, being kind to others was a very good thing to be. We were taught by parents and teachers to be nice to others regardless of who they were, because how we behaved was a direct reflection of how we were brought up.

We were also taught to be fair to others, to not take what was not ours and to be considerate to those who were older and wiser than us.

Today we are told that while being kind is still a good thing, we have to mind who we are nice to. Being considerate and polite to some people is now considered a mortal sin simply because they believe in things differently from us.

We cannot, for instance, wish that a dead person rests in peace because apparently having not believed in the same faith as we do, they cannot possibly have a peaceful afterlife.
While in all likelihood the dead person will not know what we wished them, there is still the living family and loved ones to consider. Surely we should not add to their sorrow by wishing their deceased husband or father ill in the afterlife. Not unless we want them to dislike us.

What was once just harmless common courtesy has now been poisoned by those with nothing better to do than to think of endless ways to be rude to others. Happiness today is defined by how many people you can make unhappy each day.

When we lost all those people in MH370, did anyone differentiate between which families they sent their sympathies to and which ones they didn’t? Didn’t that tragedy affect everybody equally?
Aren’t the families of MH370 now all forever linked to one another by this common disaster, regardless of who they are and where they come from?

Yet the loss of one person to an equally tragic car accident (as well as his assistant) was treated as if it was cause for celebration. Where once people were mindful not to show their ill feelings publicly, today they are advertised proudly. The world down that rabbit hole has come to the surface.
In a time not too far away, people thought that the cutting of hands and the stoning of humans were too uncivilised for a modern democratic country like ours. When some tried to introduce it, it was greeted with derision.

Today, even the most unlikely people are welcoming it as if it is the answer to all our problems. Is it because people we admire because they have lots of money have now decided that they will impose such barbaric punishments on their citizens and non-citizens alike?

For what reason do we admire this move when, apart from conspicuous consumption, there is absolutely nothing else to say about that country?

Why do we choose to ignore that this new “justice system” exempts the elite from the same punishments they want to impose on everyone else?

Is that why our elite are also rushing to endorse this new move? Because they know that it will not affect them at all, only those who are poor and marginalised as well as those whom they dislike?
What sort of society do we foresee when the poor are left crippled because they cannot afford to get justice from this system so many are now eager to introduce? If it is meant to be better than what we have now, what do these improvements look like?

What, for example, would be the equivalent of the Domestic Violence Act in the hudud laws? Or will it be completely void because in a pure “Islamic” state, men will be able to beat their wives with impunity?

Today, reason is being chiselled away daily only to be replaced by religious gamesmanship, with no thought for what the consequences will be. Everyone is trying to outdo one another with ever more “religious” pronouncements, even though so little of it makes any sense at all.

Is a religious state merely about punishing people? How does such a state deal with practical issues like globalisation or climate change, or even more mundane domestic issues like our water woes, public transport or even education?

Or is the answer simply to be like the Queen of Hearts and say “Off with his head!”?

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