Friday, July 8, 2011

The Story of Bersih, the Obedient Wives Club, Divorce, Two Elephants and a Mouse Deer

There is an old saying in Malay, “Dua gajah bergaduh kancil mati tersempit ditengah” which literally means ‘When two elephants are fighting, it is the mousedeer that is squeezed dead in the middle’.

DIVORCE. In the course of our work, I have found this to be especially (and painfully) true in the cases of divorce. When father refuses to talk to mother and mother is entirely sick at the sight of father. In such cases, children become the speculative hedging, their custody and access the casino chips that the estranged couple throws into their roulette of life. That is why we take very few cases, and if possible, we prefer to work alone with the couple based upon a mutual consensus that whatever sticks and stones they want to throw and parry, above all, it is the children’ interest that is paramount. We keep harping on this point – That access to the children is not the privilege of the parents, rather, it is the fair access to both parents that is the rightful entitlement of any children unfortunate enough to be caught in the dying embers of a once happy marriage.

BERSIH (CLEAN). Tomorrow, Kuala Lumpur is supposed to host a rally by BERSIH, a movement for democratic reform, especially in the electoral process in my country. I think the incumbent’s response have been interesting as an exercise in how not to react to dissent. Considering that the opposition have managed to capture 3 states (2 of which is considered the richest in the country), I think the Opposition have made considerable headways, in spite of complaints of vote rigging and phantom voters. Truth be told I don’t care a hoot about either camps, since after all, its politics and I have scant patience for this segment of our human drama. We have NGOs and liberal left wings coming in, we have conservative ‘traditional’ Malay right wings (I put it in inverted commas, because I refuse to accept that traditionally, my people are morons) and an assortment of the youth wings of the incumbent parties. And above this din of human voices, Angels, the only spiritual beings with wings, will be up there, looking down on the human hordes and wondering, “What the heck are they arguing about?” And it will be us, the poor saps trying to make a decent life here, that will be squashed like a grapefruit between the giant elephants. To both sides, please Talk. Don’t Walk Away. I don’t know why I bother really… its like trying to give a lecture on responsibility and rationalism in an asylum. Hehehe.

THE OBEDIENT WIVES CLUB. Oh this little story (it is a little story!) made its way around the globe. A group of Muslim wives here organized this club to promote obedience amongst women to their husbands. And one of the very first points picked up by the press is that they are going to give free sex lessons to woman on how to vamp it up in bed so their men will be satisfied and not drift to infidelity and promiscuity. Oh how the women politicians and NGOs went absolutely berserk over this non-event. It is, because frankly, nobody cares. Oh, it will be a topic to titillate and make fun of amongst us men, but at the end of the day, has anyone signed up? Has any man even dared to ask his wife to join the club? But instead of ignoring the OWC, they are interviewed and a series of debates (they are not discussions) were recorded and some aired on national radio and television. And of course, the bloggers went to the farm and milked this cow for all its worth.

Conclusion – most of the media participants and bloggers just want to score debating points, harping and almost heckling at each other with barbed comments and responses which were simply dripping with sarcasm. This does no one any good. If you consider yourself a smart, progressive liberal, or if you think you are a virtuous missionary of your faith and your sex – either way, why don't we try to find a consensus, or at least an agreement to disagree? Why drop any pretense of empathy and open-mindedness? I have said this before, and I will say it again… it is the earnest people that I worry about the most. Being right, feeling that you are right (whatever the ideology or wing that you belong to) is just one step away from being intolerant and inflexible. To be tolerant, you must be tolerant even to those you consider reactionary and intolerant themselves. Especially when they are just expressing their views... Don’t you agree, sunshine? (Note to Government also - be more tolerant)

EMPATHY, PEOPLE. After all, you cannot change the world, but you can change people’s perception – but that requires a high degree of empathy. If you cannot do this, then join me instead with the rest of the mouse deers. We may be small, but we are fast and fleety – and we remember the words of Jesus, the Prince of Peace when he said… “This world is a bridge. Cross the bridge fast and don’t try to fix it!”

Pearls of wisdom, I say.

Pax Taufiqa.

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