Courage Rises Up Again and Again

Have you ever been confronted by a menacing, snarling dog ready to pounce on you? And for that very brief moment, with the both of you glaring into each other’s eyes, you feel sure in your heart that the dog would sink his teeth into you and you would be his lunch.

Source: inspiremykids.com

But then something arises in you – a courage you never knew you had – and with your eyes fixed unflinchingly on his, you lunge forward towards the dog and… lo and behold, he turns around and runs off, his tail tucked between his legs. Seizing the moment for complete victory, you give chase, shouting after the terrified beast.

Hurray, you have become top dog in your neighbourhood!

Now that’s a nice thought, but I doubt if many of us have such stories to tell as most of the time we’d make sure not to come so close with a snarling dog. We would “elak” or avoid such confrontations by making a detour if we knew that the neighbourhood bully dog is lying there.

This article is not about dogs, but about fear and courage. Fear is a very human emotion and a necessary one to keep us safe and alive. But when fear becomes the dominant emotion in our life, it paralyses us from doing what is right.

Not many would admit to being fearful, but would gloss over their fears with such rational sounding terms like, “we just have to be wise” or “why be a hero?”  Meanwhile, that neighbourhood bully dog still reigns.

But yet there is a gentle and steady wind of change blowing, with something stirring deep inside us. Could it be courage?

The political landscape of our country in the last five years has been nothing short of extraordinary. It is as if Malaysians from all walks of life have woken up from a fifty year old coma – suddenly realising that the world has changed so much after our fifty years of slumber, and we don’t like how it has changed.

Instead of going back to sleep, some of us decided to do something about it – to confront the neighbourhood bully dog. We are tired of making long detours and pretending that we are not afraid.

Yes, courage – the only antidote for the paralysing disease of fear – has arrived.

The hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who overcame their fears in the various Bersih rallies, Himpunan Hijau rallies and culminating in the Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat mega rally at Stadium Merdeka on 12th January 2013 are clear testaments of this fact – that the people are no longer afraid.

Now with the mother of all General Elections in our nation’s history just a matter of weeks away, we are at the point where we are glaring directly  into the bully dog’s eyes. It is more than just a contest between the two contending coalitions. It is a blatant showdown between the people who want change and the people who do not.

Who is going to flinch or blink first? Would it be the usual victims of fear or would it be the dog?

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi wrote in Freedom from Fear:

Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure.

A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man’s self-respect and inherent human dignity.

It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear.

Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.

Courage rises up again and again.  No, this time it is not us who would turn, but the dog. We sense victory and can even smell it, for we have seen the fear and desperation in the dog’s eyes.

This hour of victory is not a time to be weary or discouraged or side-tracked by petty issues.  We need to lunge forward together to complete the victory. We need to shout it out loud – “Enough is Enough!” – “Ini Kalilah” as we march forward to cast our votes and take back what is rightfully ours – our FREEDOM. Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!


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Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Some 25 years ago I made a decision to be counted amongst the good men and in many small ways attempted to make this world a better place for those around me. Currently I am involved in several NGOs that provide services to those infected and affected by HIV, food and environmental issues, education and political reformation. I maintain a blog called "Towards A New Malaysia" - ideas and thoughts about nation-building at www.newmalaysia.org.

Posted on 11 April 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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