I would like to touch on this topic because it is both timely and appropriate.
We have all seen on television and read reports in the print and online media about the devastating effects of the recent floods that affected a number of states in Peninsula Malaysia.
In natural disasters such as these, the floods affect everyone in its path. No one and no building, bridge or structure is spared from its terrible effects. If the buildings are not well built or in low lying areas, then it is almost certain that there will be massive devastation. Various reports in the print media highlight this fact.
Malaysians Show That They Care
The vast majority of Malaysians in times of crisis or disasters show that they do care.
They show this in a variety of ways that make us proud to say that we are all indeed Malaysians, regardless of our race, religion or colour! But does it have to be this way only in times of disasters and tragedies? I leave you to cogitate on that matter and come to your own conclusions!
An impressive number of organisations, to their great credit, have readily sprung into action. They have organised collection of foodstuffs, clothing, bedding, tents, medicine etc and have even raised funds. They have also seen to it that these are then speedily transported to the affected areas and then distributed to the needy in a fair and orderly manner.
Lend a Helping Hand
The organisations have ranged from the National Red Crescent Society to community service clubs, social clubs, residents associations, MNCs, established national companies, political parties and a host of other interested and committed associations. All they have in common is their collective desire to offer a helping hand to those most in need and to do so without too much fanfare or cheap publicity.
This is not the first time these patriotic Malaysians have shown their true colours. As far as I can recall, every time something of this terrible nature occurs, Malaysians without hesitation step forward and do something positive about it. It is in our DNA so to speak. If our revered and popular Bapa ( Father ) Malaysia, YTM Tengku Abdul Rahman was around, I am sure that he would be most pleased to see us united in this noble and worthy cause.
Spontaneous Desire to Alleviate Suffering
Collins English Dictionary defines compassion as a feeling of distress and pity for the sufferer or misfortune of another. Compassion also often includes the desire to alleviate the suffering. In that respect, Malaysians have demonstrated in an admirable manner, time and time again, that when the chips are down, they are quick to rise to the occasion and show that they are Malaysians, first and last!
They have also not been mean spirited to assist only a certain community because of race, religion or colour but have instead rendered assistance to all those who are most in need. This is in stark contrast to the petty, on-going focus by some misguided individuals on such divisive issues on a fairly regular basis. Their inflammatory comments often receive wide media coverage. How then can we ever be a united nation when there are efforts to build walls between the communities rather than to build bridges to understanding?
There was, in fact, one very good example of true blue Malaysian consciousness. This was when the imam of a mosque and the principal of a Chinese medium school, both immediate neighbours, joined hands in a show of unity and solidarity to serve the larger interests of those who had taken refuge in their premises. This is the true spirit of Malaysians…. generous, compassionate and kind hearted. Their efforts should be applauded and thereafter emulated.
A More Caring Society
Such acts of kindness and generosity in times of natural disasters will certainly lead to a more caring society in the long run. It will not manifest itself overnight but it goes to show that there is this once of goodness within all of us… if only we are prepared to do the right thing on a regular basis and for the right reasons too.
Much too often, it is the Ugly Malaysian who grabs the spotlight and gains media attention with his / her threatening and provocative statements. These ugly Malaysians ( there are quite a few of them ) modus operandi is somewhat similar to a former US Defence Secretary’s infamous, boastful statement about ‘ Shock and Awe “ on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. We all now know how that shock and awe is still reverberating years later not only in Iraq but also in the Middle East as well as in other parts of the world!
Random Acts of Kindness
When we consciously choose to engage in acts of kindness, sometimes random acts of kindness, on a regular basis, then over time we will help to bring about or give rise to a more caring, just and happy society. A friend I know occasionally stops by to offer a packet of ‘ nasi lemak ‘ to the security guard at his office. Another friend sometimes gives the receptionist at his gym a piece of cheese cake. Yet another acquaintance of mine, rather than take home some left over snacks from a meeting, offers these to the staff on duty. These acts of kindness are meant to show appreciation for individuals that we sometimes take for granted.
On yet another level, how often have we graciously allowed a driver to cut in after he has signalled his intention to do so? How often have we actually waited patiently at the lift entrance and allowed the passengers to get out before we entered the lift? And how often have we forgotten to express a warm ‘ thank you ‘ and show appreciation when that was called for? In today’s highly impatient Malaysian society, often the basic courtesies are simply overlooked!
At the end of the day, it is not how much wealth we can accumulate over time that matters. Rather it is a matter of how we have chosen to live our lives, the values that we have embraced during our lifetime and the legacy we leave behind.