Monday, February 3, 2014

Stop feeling happier

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to feel happier about the world, I have got news for you, buddy. It is not happening.

Misery is here to stay and unfortunately, you are part of it.

The truth is, I have been unhappy for a while. There you go, I finally said it.

If you think I’m another self-indulgent writer who is taking advantage of the media to whine about how unhappy I am, you’re absolutely right. But I will tell you now that I take no pleasure in doing so because I would rather be the bearer of good news on this New Year if I could.

Well, it began to dawn on me how unhappy I have been when the media recently reported that a French company has successfully produced the world’s first self-regulating artificial heart transplant. Instead of being thrilled with the technological marvel, I scorned at it.

I scorned at it because seriously, do we really need human beings to live longer?

Here are some words to describe human beings – capitalist, authoritarian, hypocrite, sadist, fanatic, xenophobe and racist.  I mean, look around you. Misery is everywhere and we, the human beings, are responsible for it.

For those who truly know me, I usually have a sarcastic or cynical comeback for most things. People who constantly post positive things on their Facebook or say only positive things about the world make me feel uncomfortable. Do not get me wrong, it is not that I do not want to share their positivity, I just do not buy it. I wish they would just cut the crap and stop pretending that everything is okay.

I had a conversation with a colleague about what it means to save the planet. This is what he said, “The term saving the planet is so deceitful because the planet does not really need saving. It has the ability to heal itself. If we are really concern about saving the planet, then we must be rid it of ourselves because our mere existence is harming the planet. So people should stop using the term ‘save the planet’ because what they really mean is to save human beings, not the planet.”

I appreciated him for cutting the crap.

I have been unhappy for a while because I know the world is not getting better and I do not have to look far to see this. Just look at what we’re doing to each other in Malaysia and how our government is intent on making us unhappy.

You see, the general rule is that many of us have to slog away at least five days a week for many years before we can live the lifestyle we want, unless we are born on a silver platter, win the lottery or steal.

On top of paying our home loan, car loan, electricity bill, water bill, sewerage bill, service and maintenance fee, tuition fee, legal fee, sinking fund, pension fund, insurance, road toll, road tax, assessment tax, service tax, and income tax, a part of our hard-earned income will eventually be stolen to benefit a few people while we pinch here and there just to save up for the things that will make us happy. So let me tell you now that as a taxpayer, I am extremely unhappy but what can I do?

If I refuse to pay my taxes in protest, I will be punished by the very same government whom I’m protesting against.

When things look bleak and if I want to turn to God for wisdom, I am told by people who simply have no business in my personal life that I cannot address God the way I want to.

If I want to express my unhappiness out loud, I am reminded to leave the country.

If I am serious enough and decide to lobby for mass support, I will be accused of overthrowing the government.

If I decide to seek legislative change through the ballot, I may never see change because the politicians who share my sentiment will not have fair access to the media and resources to reach out to the majority of the people.

I had dinner with an NGO partner this week and we talked about how to run successful awareness campaigns. I could tell he was not impressed with street protests and thought the original Occupy movement failed to maintain the momentum it garnered from the beginning. He was convinced that public satire will pressure the authority into respecting human rights and democracy.

The sad truth is, shaming does not work in this country. Believe me, many people have tried.  Satire has no place in this country. It is like those offending drivers who stick their middle fingers at you just because you honk at them for cutting into your lane without signaling. That is who we are. We reward the bad guys and punish the good ones. 

I have been unhappy because this government has never lifted a finger to help NGOs that promote human rights, democracy and good governance. For years, these NGOs are made the enemy of the state while groups propagating racial hatred are allowed to flourish.

The Auditor General’s report will tell us that the wastage generated by our civil servants year after year would have secured the funding of many NGOs for many years. As I often say, their spare change would have made these NGOs millionaires. Instead, many are forced to depend on irregular sources of funding through the goodwill of people other than this government.

So my fellow Malaysians, we cannot afford to be happy now. If anything, we need to be extra unhappy and continue to express that unhappiness because I know what the top people are doing. Do not think I have been fooled for a second. Creating religious and racial polarity among us is a classic example of trying to distract us from focusing on how they have led this country and its people into ruin.

My fellow Malaysians, please do not be fooled by the people who tell you that you should be happy, that things are not that bad. To these people, I will tell them to wake up and smell the rotting flesh before they are turned into carcasses.

Here is an Unhappy New Year message to all – stop trying to feel happier about the world. Instead, make it happier.

This article was first published in The Malaysian Insider on 9 January 2014.