Edward Soo just recently wrote a piece entitled “Of Heroes and Hyperboles“.
I think he highlights an important issue. The government used this poor soul to exploit our empathy and compassion. With us distracted, government can continue to wreak havoc, or so it hopes.
In one of my favorite films, ‘Men with Guns‘, a government official tells a doctor, “The common people love drama.”
The official was covering up much of the massacre that the government and opposing guerrilla fighters were carrying out in the countryside.
This phrase still holds its meaning, even when taken out of context.
No matter what the government is trying to do, we do love drama and we do love heroes. And even though we may not find this man to be a ‘hero’, I bet you that some people think he is!
You may be thinking to yourself, ‘But I wouldn’t succumb to such foolishness.’
Well many of us idolize certain people. Take Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan or Auntie Bersih for example.
Now you may be thinking, ‘Why would you not admire these women? They are heroines!’
They are indeed fantastic women and Ambiga is indeed a great leader. But why do we idolize these people? We may be doing so in order to shift responsibility. When I say ‘shift responsibility’ I mean that we are charging a few persons with the task of changing our country while we sit and watch (and cheer them on). Pioneering change and actually taking action in the physical sphere (not just online) is a little daunting sometimes.
Even if Najib and co. decide that we are to do away with the ISA, the Emergency Ordinance, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and any and all other draconian laws, that only lessens a small portion of our fears. It definitely doesn’t lessen our laziness (whoops) or perhaps our fear of loss of privilege. Though we may not risk imprisonment, activism takes a lot of time and energy! And if I risk doing a lot of the work on my own, I certainly don’t want to bother! I also couldn’t afford not to work a steady job with a steady income…
Or maybe I just don’t want to give up having a steady income.
But I digress.
Maybe we should listen to our heroines and stop idolizing them! Ambiga did say that her original goal was to empower the people, not to empower herself. I’m sure Auntie doesn’t want this much attention either. So come on lah.
Let’s share the work.