Listen! Two and Two Make Five
Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.
I’ve always been highly cautious about what I write despite hiding behind the veil of the web, particularly when it comes to criticism. Perhaps it’s fear – fear of getting into trouble, of offending people, of exhibiting profound stupidity because of my limited knowledge.
I wrote about foreign labourers in Malaysia and how they are treated like trash despite originating from the same species as locals here. People read it. People shared it. People said, “Good writing”. People sympathized.
And then they forgot. They might as well have not read it.
I don’t write these things to fish for comments, because I’m no longer a primary school kid writing obligatory Pharisee-approved essay full of things ‘the examiner wants to read’ to get a 100% in one of those frightfully condescending topics.
It would be the ideal even if people said, “Your style of writing is ten years too elementary for a 21-year-old. But damn, these foreign workers have it real bad. Something must be done.” Or at least something to this effect. Otherwise, I have failed in my aim.
There is a Malaysian who has been residing in the US for many years. He wrote a blog severely criticizing Malaysia and Malaysians alike. There was a Malaysian sitting behind me in a train. He complained about Malaysia the whole journey. There is yours truly who points out numerous flaws in Malaysia and offers few solutions.
Many lashed out at the first Malaysian for ‘running away’ from the challenge of setting right the nation, for being “brave” to criticise only when he’s out of the country. Although I think that his points were rather shallow and moved towards plain insults generously peppered with profanity, I know I do not want to be a gutless critique.
I know I will live and die in Malaysia. There is no better place to be vocal about the disparaging state of affairs of Malaysia than in Malaysia, social media or not. Because those stuck in the muck know the muck better than those who are miles away from the bank. Don’t tell me to put my future on a line fighting battles you ought to be fighting too while you rest your ass in a comfy environment doing the exact things you condemn. I know that for a point to come across, one has to be full and frank, words unminced. I know of risks in this increasingly Orwellian government. But let what ought to be done, be done!
Going back to the Malaysian trio, if we’re so affected by the mess, why aren’t we being radical? Why are we doing nuts? (This includes me as well.)
Then comes the answer in the form of a “sensational” video that goes to show that listening without utilizing your God-given mental faculties is the start of a tidal wave of stupidity that washes out all rationale and sense. Then the discussion about indoctrination came up. The first thing that sprang in my mind was: This is a realisation of the Orwellian nightmare.
It’s everything Orwell wrote.
In his essay Looking Back on the Spanish War:
“Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as “the truth” exists. … The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, “It never happened” – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.”
And then in Nineteen Eighty-Four:
“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”
The government has been and is always good.
Western influence (budaya kuning) is always bad.
Being Asian is being demure.
Equality is central, meritocracy is practice.
Students just need to study, get a degree, contribute to national economy and multiply like rabbits.
Getting A’s gets you Anything.
A good responsible citizen is one that follows everything the government says and is eternally grateful.
A loyal citizen is one that kisses the feet of rulers, put them on pedestals to worship and has unquestioning loyalty ala Hang Tuah.
The government listens.
Government is nation. Nation is government.
As a people with functioning minds, evaluate for yourselves! Just like Winston in Nineteen Eighty-Four who was politically re-educated to love Big Brother, we’re constantly fed “education” to make us love the government albeit more subtly in the form of universities and not-so-subtly in propaganda letters in mail-boxes. Rather, we should be “educated” to love the country and all the people in it, and hence, fight for the best interests of everyone, not akur to an oppression that is self-serving and corrupt akin to the Animal Farm pigs. Loyalty to the nation is not loyalty to the government.
Melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya. We’ve been cultivated with such docility that we are afraid of a shift of equilibrium. We’re like men of the 21st century, sitting in an old sampan. There is a fantastic motorized boat just next to our sampan; all we have to do is get up and cross over. But nobody stands up because nobody wants to rock the boat. If you want to free yourselves, free your mind.
As for me, I’m freeing myself from the shackles of self-censored writing. Although the reach of my writings is extremely short and writing may be thought to be a passive means, I am consoled by the fact that the anti-colonialism movement was made possible by people who dared to write.
What are your shackles?
Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.
I’d be a ‘fool’ because conscience demands it.
~ by Yi Wen Lim on January 23, 2013.
Posted in Art, Artistic Attempts, Malaysian politics, Pen Sketches, Social Critique, Thoughts on Utopia
Tags: 1984, 2+2=5, Animal Farm, anti-colonialism movement, complaining, free your mind, history textbooks, indoctrination, listen, Looking Back at the Spanish War, loyal citizen, Malaysia, Malaysians, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell, Orwellian, responsible citizen, rocking the boat, self-censored writing, writing