CONNECT THE DOTS by Azira Aziz
Fed by misinformation. In conduct of an internal inquisition. In formation of an inquisitive mind. Like a child beholding a picture book, connecting the printed dots and filling the colours of my fascination with the beloved nation of mine.
Connecting the dots in the mind of a closet racist.
Beware of your thoughts, they become your words.
Beware of your words, they become your actions.
Beware of your actions, they become your habits.
Beware of your habits, they become your character.
Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.
Human beings are the product of their environment. Genetics play a part, but we are natural imitators. We are subconsciously inclined to emulate the people that we look up to, the alpha homo sapiens. We emulate their manner of dress, their manner of speech, and at times, their very thoughts and opinions.
We allow ourselves to be convinced by smooth delivery and beautiful prose that certain ideas are beautiful and wonderful when there is no logical causal link to it.
We are indoctrinated to accept what is generally accepted by the majority. Our internal data is validated or reinforced by surrounding echoes of similar strains of thought. “That’s how things are, and that’s how things should be,” as gloriously exhibited by UMNO. Classic example of absolute obedience to mind control, but I digress.
Today I’d like to talk about self awareness. I’d like to ask you read the situational questions below, really put yourself in that situation and respond honestly.
1. You’re in a conversation with a group of your peers. The “story of the day” concerns a horrible accident that occurred along the Federal Highway and you were told that 20 people died. What would your first question be?
2. It’s lunch time and you’re off to lunch with your colleagues. Usual sharing of the latest office gossip takes place (come on, don’t lie, everybody does it!) and we refer to certain individuals whose names we do not recall as …?
3. You’re sick and believe that if government hospitals are good enough for the masses, it is certainly good enough for you, and made your way to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. As you coughed, sneezed, and tried to brave the nausea from being sick, you were at least aware enough to leave the “race” column blank to express your political opinion on racial profiling. The medical officer taking your temperature and blood pressure grunted and ask you for your race. You refused to say anything. He attempted to startle you with “Melayu ke Cina?” What would you do?
4. You’re watching television, and there is news of a high profile murder trial involving two suspects of a certain race.Your first thought would be to identify the two persons as…? After the identification is found, your first thought is to link it with?
5. How would you feel if you heard news about a person of the same cultural heritage (or race) committing a heinous crime? How would you feel if that person was of a different cultural hertiage (or race) than yours?
6. When a Malaysian wins an award or does something exemplary that the international community covers it in their news, what would the first reaction be?
7. You see a Malay/Chinese or Indian/Malay or Chinese/Indian or the 300k other multiracial combination couple out on a date. What would you do? You are a non-Muslim person hanging out with some friends, one of which is a Muslim.
8. You are a non-Muslim person hanging out with some friends, one of which is a Muslim. All of you want to eat at a non-halal shop, but he can’t, being the religious sort. What would you do?
Have the answer yet? Reflect and be honest with yourself.
Here is what I think would be the most likely responses to the respective questions above from the average Malaysian:
1. Cina, Melayu ke India?
2. Chinese f’ler, Indian f’ler, gwai loh, lelaki Melayu.
3. This is from my personal experience. I told him “Bangsa Malaysia” and blew my nose in my tissue. My Mom happened to pass by, and he grunted “Hmmpphhh” and sent me for a blood test.
4. Oh, [insert race], they’re all like that one, very [insert stereotype]!
5. Most people, whether they admit it or not, would likely be angrier at suspects and convicted criminals from a different cultural heritage or race. If the cultural heritage or race is the same, the sentiment would be “Bring shame to [insert racial community] only!”
6. Cina, Melayu ke India? You feel proud if from same race. Feel indifferent if not, with a slight tinge of envy somewhere in your gut. Sabotage where possible.
7. STARE. If one girl is a Malay/Muslim, stare even longer and think about the poor non-Muslim having to convert into Islam and the children having no choice but to remain a Muslim. In my personal opinion, in any relationship, you take the other person as he or she is when you found them – religion, family, bad habits and all – or it’s not really love. Asking another person to convert for you is a bit much, especially since the trend in Malaysia is not converting into Islam, but “masuk Melayu” though I have yet to test the theory of how a non-Malay could genetically be remade into a Malay through marriage and conversion into Islam as yet.
8. In Malaysia, the “sensitivities” of Muslims trumps the rights of everyone else. For some reason, if there is a Muslim present, even if there are 10 non-Muslims and he or she is the only one, everyone must only eat at a halal place. Tapau-ing halal food to be considerate to the non-Muslim friends is wrong, even when the restaurant allows it.
The conclusion from the scenarios is this: Most of us are all still closet racists. Don’t beat yourself up for it. We’ve been short-changed by the same propaganda drilled into our brains since primary school until university (if you’re in public university).
The Government preaches tolerance but not acceptance. It preaches 1Malaysia while maintaining the affirmative action policies which it knows does not benefit people who need them the most, at the expense of the other equally Malaysian Malaysians.
Tolerate. I dislike that word. It’s like when someone passes wind of the very unbearably “aromatic” kind but you grit your teeth anyway and put up with it because you know it will to go away soon, (especially with a speedy fan) and you’d rather not create an awkward situation.
Why not acceptance? We accept that people are different by keeping an open mind. Everything has an underlying issue, and each person is unique.
But that’s okay. That is when you don’t know that you are in control of your awareness. You control what your thoughts are, every day. That voice that tells you that you can’t reach that deadline comes from within you. That voice that tells you you’re on top of your game is also you. You choose what to think. It is only natural that our thoughts govern our actions, every day.
Think instead, everyone is human. If we get into an accident and require blood transfusion, do we care what race our blood packs come from? If your neighbour has no food, and you do, do we not do the right thing and share what little we have with each other? No man is an island entire of itself. No singular community is an island, as everyone is interconnected.
So, why not choose to remove thoughts based on labels and racial profiling?
Azira Aziz is a self-professed mongrel Malaysian. She hopes to have “Malay” and “non-Malay” relegated as a relic of the past sometime in the future. She is a UiTM graduate currently undergoing training to become a lawyer.