Monday, February 16, 2009

something we can do about it

Lately, i was helping my friend in a Campus Election. The main issue we faced is: race issue (His opponent is a Malay and we afraid that we cant get enough malay votes because malay will vote for malay). But finally, we managed to win.

After Campus Election soon it was the PERUNDANG election. Again, it is a race issue. The commitee of PERUNDANG is formed merely all Malays(it happened the same in Perak BN government - 27 UMNO and 1 MCA) and it pissed some non-Malay off. I was told by my friend that Chinese in law faculty are labeled as 'gila kuasa'.

I remember when i was doing business in KL few years ago, i found that a number of Malays never like to buy my products, and I was told by someone that it was because of the color of my skin, because they think that Chinese are always cunning.

2 years ago i was robbed by 2 Indians, and when I report to the Police i was told that the robbers' target are always Chinese because Chinese are rich. In fact I am poor!

All my experiences let me know how racial prejudice is like to be and i feel really bad. How are we going to overcome racial prejudice? Before tackle the problems, we figure out cause first.

What is prejudice? We are all victims of prejudice, victims of racial prejudice, religious prejudice, or sexual prejudice, because of how we look, because of our skin colour. Prejudice has many forms, and it keep going on since people are people. Etymologically, the word prejudice means ‘before judgment’ (pre means before, judice means judgment or judging), or ‘judging before knowing all the facts involved’.

People always confused with prejudice and discrimination. We always hear people say ‘racial discrimination’ is something bad, and we must avoid it. But actually discrimination is a necessary and an important part of our lives that we would be unable to function without it, and would die. Why? Discrimination is the ability to discern or distinguish things from each other. Imagine being unable to distinguish. For example traffic light: a red light and a green light: there would be accident and death at every intersection. Food and taste itself is discrimination, is it not?Imagine unable to distinguish salt and sugar. To clarify the difference between prejudice and discrimination is itself discrimination!

Discrimination is a very important aspect. It also enables us to recognize the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and so is responsible for our concepts of morality and immorality.Morality consists of our ability to choose, and decide to refrain from doing certain things that are regarded as 'bad',harmful, and perform things which are considered to be helpful, useful, or ‘good’. Animal live by instinct,unable to choose and decide, but as human being, on a higher level, we can choose and decide. We all got capacity to kill, steal, lie, cheat, rape, but our discrimination help us not to do so.

What about racial discrimination?We always say that all races are the same and equal, but this is just too simplistic and i found that it actually contributes nothing to the resolution of problems that arise from racial differences. Just like what happen in our campus election. Think about it. When the Malay MPP speak to Chinese audience, he might say something like 'Xie Xie'.Why he need to do so? Or if someone needs translation for Chinese, he will definitely look for me to help him; he would not go to Indian or Malay and ask him if he could translate for him, would he?This mean nothing less racial discrimination; They recognize differences, and there is nothing at all with it, it is neither good or bad, it is natural.

We always suggest that we should have to speak only one language-Malay. We might, in future, reach a stage where everyone speaks the same language, so there would be no need to ask anyone to translate, or to speak another language. This would solve many problems, but not all; other problems would remain, and new problems would probably arise because of it. As I mentioned that food and taste itself is discrimination. Sushi, Mamak, Thai, Malay food...Imagine life without a variety of foods to choose from; it would be dull and boring, is it? We discriminate between different kinds of food, and in the same way, we discriminate between different races. Why? Because there are differences! There are differences such as skin color, culture, language, customs, dress and food. We are not photo copies! Imagine, if we all speak the same language-Malay, we might not understand Hong Kong Drama, we might not read Tamil books, and we are all the same and we would soon grow to hate the uniformity of it all, and wish we were all different again. Be thankful, therefore,try to see that the differences of others make you what you are: a unique and special individual.

Does the color of one’s skin really make one better or worse than others whose skin is a different color? What is skin for, after all? Simple answer: to keep the outside out and the inside in. Nothing more? Anything other than that is just an idea. People might think their race are better than others. But a person's class are determined by his/her action, not by race. Life is not ready-made and predetermined for us, but is what we make of it; it is up to us.Excerpts from Martin Luther's speech:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

I have a friend who recently bought his dream car --a BMW 7 series after working hard for so long. Soon in one week time after he bought the car he found that his car was scratched. This might be the result that his car might had parking beside the second-hand or third-hand cheaper models or people probably envied his car, but, unable to afford one like it themselves, might have felt the urge to damage or destroy it. But why don't they work hard like my friend to own their dream cars? People feel threatened by other different race which they know little or nothing about it, and therefore they think it might be dangerous to them.

I am happy being born in Malaysia. I have lived with many different kinds of people, and have seen things from different points of view. However this does not mean I have become totally free of prejudice, it has had the effect, because i have experience the unpleasantness of prejudice myself. Prejudice will always exist, though we should take a stand against it, we can only do so by first confronting it in ourselves. This requires honesty and an acceptance of the fact that our minds are not really our own, but have been built up in a different background. If we can understand our minds more, and see how prejudice has grown there (it is like weeds in the garden, we can see how it grows and control it's shape, size, and etc), we will managed to do something on it!

We cannot change the whole world; we cannot banish the specter of prejudice in anyone but ourselves. We cannot make anyone understand, but we can try to understand, ourselves.