Someone told me recently that young Malaysians look for a “complete truth.” Many of us once took what we learned in school to be the truth. Later, we switch sides to view the voices of the opposition, online media, or youth leaders to be the new truth. Yet, any sort of absolute truth does not really exist, as truth is all a perception.
For example, the government may truly believe in what they spit out. From the government’s point of view, its views are valid and its statements are true. When you switch sides, you digest information differently and change your ideas of validity and falsehood.
Some people call themselves critical, and yet they accept everything online at face value. Instead of simply swallowing whole opposing views or news sources, people should seek out facts for themselves. Or, readers should at least read both sides and multiple sources before forming a conclusion.
Being truly critical implies that you make your own decision and stance on an issue after consulting all representations of one story.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can be lazy, or “too busy,” if you are looking for a more legit excuse. I’ll take a look at The Star (my Auntie has it delivered every morning) and then turn to Malaysiakini to see what they say about the same issues. Instead of truly looking into the sources of the articles, or even checking out The Sun, The Malaysian Insider, etc. I’ll take a stance and post it on Twitter. Sometimes I even surpass the Malaysiakini step and just blurt out some angry statement in less than 140 characters. I think that many of us are guilty of this from time to time.
Instead of following the “alternative” crowd (wow, irony), we should encourage those who steer closer to the middle (or even to the right… maybe) to share their opinions as well. What we should remind ourselves of is that diversity of opinions within civil society and among political activists is a good thing.
People form more inclusive and thusly more sustainable solutions from collaboration and compromise.
You may say, “This is what the government should be doing. We cannot be guilty for being actively excluded from the conversation.” This is true. The government has demonstrated that it does not have an urgent desire to hear from us. However, if we strive for change, we cannot practice the same kind of exclusion and alienation that is utilized by the government now.
I think that if we do so, we can strengthen civil society and better empower citizens’ voices in the process.