August 15, 2006

Pilgrim’s Progress

Posted in Literature, Religion at 12:40 am by egalitaria

Perchanced upon a 21st Century version of Pilgrim’s Progress here.

Interesting take on modern day Christianity.

On another note, a website called Muhammad, Prophet of Doom is here.

Some random sites on religion that might be of interest.

Dear Anita…

Posted in Reflections, Religion at 12:23 am by egalitaria

Anita posted this on my blog yesterday:

to practice love,is it so hard? did ypu ever think that why muslims reacted that way?did you ever wonder when all you say is LOVE and its practises in your religion are, at least 3000 lebonanese are dying…and constant bombing by the israel killing little children…they are very desperate for self defence..and tell me how fo fight for your country and family that had been killed in front of your own very eyes could be preposterous. what is to rasionate is why are they doing and voilate the human rights?our prophet muhammad once said love ur people as i you love your self…does that sound any fimiliar to you?

She was writing in response to my previous posting on “Practising Love”. The gist of what she says is that it is the preaching of Love that has gone downhill because it is very poorly reflected through actions. Actually, yes Anita, I would stick to my point about Love being very difficult to practise indeed. And this is in fact the cause of a lot of heartache in the world.

I assume that you are a Muslim, Anita, since you spoke about your Prophet Muhammad. (I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to say pbuh but I am doing so in accordance to what I read when his name is oft quoted.) Many commandments in the Christian Bible are the same commandments given to those who are practising Judaism and Islam today. Some are not exact literal commandments, but the idea behind the practice of these three monotheistic faith religions started out very much the same.

However, along the line, someone named Jesus came along – this is what we believe in Christianity – and he happened to be someone who was both human and divine in nature. Meaning to say that, because humanity had fallen beyond any possible redemption of their own account, this guy here was sent to save us from our own downfall. I guess you could call it pity, but aren’t us humans a bunch of pitiful creatures anyway? Take a good look at humanity and you tell me we aren’t despicable and horrible, from a distance and worse up close.

So this Jesus who is Son of God, but – we believe – also God, created a bridge between our Creator and who we are down here on earth (unable to redeem ourselves cos we’re just so crap and evil). And this is the sort of love I am talking about. What is love, Anita? Perfect love shows itself in the form of sacrifice isn’t it? And can all people readily do that for someone they hate? My answer stands the same: No. Why? Because we are human. We can never do that.

And yet, each religion calls us to do that. How can I do that with a clear conscience, without myself feeling as if I were only obliging myself to do it based on the commandments of the religion? It is only upon reliance on God that I can do that. It is only through the strength that I draw from a being that is higher that I can love someone who, in all honesty and in my humane bestial nature, I am so inclined to hating.

And don’t tell me that it is easy for you to love when you naturally feel inclined towards hatred. Because it is not.

And so if you are a Lebanese, Anita, I fully emphathise with you if you have seen your families being killed before your very eyes. In fact, my heart tears apart thinking of the pain and suffering that you people have to go through each day. We pray for you. Deep down in my heart I wish there was something I could do on a massive scale to end this. And I know you would be inclined to blame the Israelis for their continued efforts to bomb up Lebanon, defying the UN peace treaty, and taking any last chances they can before the ceasefire starts.

But you know what? Blaming any one side will not help anybody. Because, Anita, it is not about whose fault it is anymore than the mere admission that each one of us – each human being (yes, that includes You and Me) is faulty and full of human ‘sin’. Right down to our bone marrow, our hearts are filled with grit. Filthy little beings, we all of us are. And it is only when we can begin to admit with humility that we are ALL like that – not one with exception – that we can stop this nonsensical fingerpointing and come up with effective policy resolution.

I would say that it is pride and greed that drive mankind to act the way we have acted thus far. So, Anita, if you are reading this (I hope you are, since you posted a message and it is good responsibility to check if the blogger has replied you), I hope you understand my situation. From far away, I cannot fully emphathise with your situation but I think that it has to start with looking at oneself’s heart. The macro perspective is only the micro magnified.

God bless you, your family, the little children around you. May He grant you protection, safety, warmth and spiritual comfort as you struggle to come to terms with these life-breaking moments. If you emerge alive from this, you will be a stronger person. I hope you will not grow up with hatred. I hope you will take this as a lesson that hatred is something horrible to be thrown away. Please look at the situation objectively and seek as best you can to Love with all your heart. And if you can’t find in one cell of your body to love, remember what I said here: I never said loving is easy. But because of one man who was willing to show that tremendous amount of love for us all, I can do it. I love because He first loves me. An abundant, overpowering love that knows no measure.

I pray that you can lead by example. Love when loving is difficult: that is my message to you, Anita.

All the best and keep in touch.

Your friend, Egalitaria.

August 7, 2006

KL Stream

Posted in Malaysia at 1:38 am by egalitaria

So much for stopping the media and online news, PM. Now you have conversations coming to your doorstep, I mean desktop. Us net addicts now have an alternative source of listening to coffee-shop talk on the computer.

Podcasts of Jeff Ooi and Oon Yeoh’s conversations on current issues will be starting every weekday, on KL Stream.

Their first one is on Dr. M and his rampage.

Practising Love

Posted in Malaysia, Personal, Religion, The Cause at 1:24 am by egalitaria

This is the most difficult question of all. How to practise love in a society so full of hatred? I think this is one of the primary issues that strike deep into the heart of a Christian. This is the crux of the matter, isn’t it? The true mark of what differentiates us from others. How different would I be, if I too, like all other sheep in the country, continued to criticise and bark hollow at the government and people whom we dislike?

I would be no different, says the Bible. Without love, we strike at a gong and find we are equally hollow. Shallow waters that do not correctly reflect what God has chosen for us to be.

And yet, how difficult it is for us to practise Love. All around us hatred brims full. And it is easy to react with anger when injustice takes place. We puff up our chests with indignant pride, a righteous anger is alright, so we condition ourselves in believing.

But HOW can I practise love? HOW do I show love to someone who blatantly hates me? I understand that I SHOULD. But loving a team of jihadists from Indonesia when they want to continually attack – sounds preposterous. Yet, what I believe – being a Christian – might indeed be preposterous. Loving when loving is the most difficult thing in the world.

As an army of 2000 and more continues to build up its forces (Indonesia’s Muslim Youth Movement recruiting soldiers from Phillipphines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) to train and send suicide bombers to fight the Lebanese cause, I pause to scratch my head in wonderment. Organised suicide seems to be the order of the day. I cannot comprehend it.

Yet, I am to love these people. It is a daily struggle.

Love your neighbour as you love yourself. 

August 3, 2006

Turn to the Arts!

Posted in Malaysia, Music, The Cause at 11:54 pm by egalitaria

Every now and then, I get increasingly disillusioned with the state of what we strive for.

Yet, every now and then, simple things colour and liven your day, perfectly or im.

Listening to a compilation of Malaysian artistes, a CD of 24 songs called “Voices From Next Door”… songs on life, love and survival by Malaysian Singer Songwriters. It’s not mainstream music, which is why I like it actually. This is the Keane-Coldplay-Damien Rice sort of music that I fall deeply in love with. (Keane is coming to Bangkok, by the way!) Some songs are not really worth listening to, but some others are brilliant. So proud of our local scene.

When all else fails, turn to the arts scene. Troubadours is a group of independent musicians who play live regularly – instrumental in compiling this CD. It is inspiring to see people making things happen, converse to what happens in that other big structure – the building starting with the letter “P” and whose picture is on our ringgit notes.

When all else fails, turn to theatre. Read the review on kakiseni here – a play put up by Five Arts Centre over the next three days called “In 1969”, a tale of unrequited love based in 1969 – a controversial year in Malaysian history.

At least these people have the courage to do something proactive instead of endless debating and talkshop that amount to zilch. Kudos to the Malaysian arts scene….

And when all else fails for me, I will too turn to the arts. Perhaps sooner.

Silence of the Lambs

Posted in Malaysia, The Cause at 11:42 pm by egalitaria

Silence of the Lambs before the slaughter… we now see the silencing of writers online.

The Star Online 1 Aug Says: “Zam: Some control on Net media needed”

“We need to have a similar form of control over Internet media and blogs, as the medium is used to spread unfounded allegations that pose a threat to national security and racial unity,” he added. Zainuddin said he supported Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow’s statement that there should be some form of control over sensitive issues to protect national security. He said some websites and blogs had touched on Islam and Malay rights, which threatened harmony in multi-racial Malaysia. If left uncontrolled, the medium could be used as a tool to disturb the peace and stability in the country. “It is not our intention to curb freedom of speech. It is all right to present views but it is not acceptable if the content is instigative in nature,” he added. “We have come across cases and stories that are posted based on hearsay. Some of the comments and arguments are baseless,” he noted. Zainuddin said the Government had no intention of jailing those who write about racial issues in blogs. “We will not stop bloggers and Internet media operators from expressing their views, as long as the views are presented in an ethical manner,” he added.

And today’s news on The Star (2nd Aug 2006 issue), the front page reminded bloggers just that. The Prime Minister has issued a warning – those who spread untruths and slander on the Internet will face the law. If information in blogs, websites and online portals were incorrect, bordered on slander, caused disturbance or compelled the public to lose faith in the nation’s economic policies, their authors would be detained for investigation, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. 

Thanks Nadai!

August 1, 2006

Passion and Ideals

Posted in Reflections, Religion at 10:05 pm by egalitaria

What is there to live for if not with passion?

What guide can one live life upon if not on principles and ideals?  Is there another way to live, really?

Should it come as a surprise to many people that some really do work according to the vocations of their choice? That indeed, enjoyment and passion drive some to perform their best? This is Marxist in nature, since Marx himself said that work was the fulfilment of all mankind. In work one would truly find oneself – a very short paraphrase of course.

This also has biblical grounding. Christians believe that on the 7th day, God rested, because He was satisfied with His creations. After each of His creations, He was satisfied and saw that it was good. I see this as a reflection of what we ought to be as well – satisfied with what we do. In the “creating” or carving out of something, anything, in life – we ought to do it with full passion and at its fruition, stand back and feel with utmost satisfaction the joy of a work completed.

Likewise, in the sphere of Work and Life, one should derive equal pleasure from one’s creations – may it be a statistical chart, a product design, an econometric model, a research project, an article written, a painting, a poem, an electronic switchboard… may all these contribute to the joy of being human… and ultimately, “made in His image”. We are made to create and experience the joy of having completed a good work!

Boy oh Boy-cott

Posted in Malaysia at 12:05 am by egalitaria

KJ pulls another KJ stunt! Between him and his dad-in-law, it’s hard to say who is winning. It seems like they are competing in a contest these days on the most outstanding statement.

When I wrote earlier about the ridiculously long list of products linked to Israel that is currently being boycotted, I had no idea that this was also being initiated in our very country! By one of our leaders!

He says in the Bernama report here, that UMNO Youth will release a list of these products soon. KJ said that the move was to inform the public of the products so they can be boycotted. If you’ve seen the list, you’ll know it’s an incredibly long one.

Does he know what he is really saying, in actual fact? Is he thinking about the many Malaysian employees working in that line? How about the managing directors/ country representatives in that area of work who are going to be affected financially if these products are really boycotted by more than 60% of the country?

He is an influential leader. And so whatever he says might just be followed, without thinking of the ramifications. Perhaps those working in these companies might also abandon their jobs. This will contribute to the growing number of unemployed in the country. Already the country is grappling with the high numbers of unemployed graduates. What then for these graduates to work in such Israel-related (or so the list claims…I’m not sure about its truth) MNC companies?

Sure, there is the issue of religion involved and all. I could blog about that but another day… At stake here is the economy of the country. Malaysia is fighting to be world class and rise up to achieve its GDP growth outlined in the 9MP and all our beloved politicians can do is make use of these for their own reasons. Furthermore, reading from a comment on a blog, it is true isn’t it, that his investment company engages in global investments. Think about that.