Three goals we can score as Malaysians in 2019


LET'S face it, once again it's that time of the year where many among us will be working on our lists and checking them twice - or even breaking and discarding what's written on them.

I am talking about our different resolutions for 2019, of course. We make them, and sure enough we'll stick to some of them, compromise on some points and perhaps outright break some.

Of course, this is a wholly natural state of affairs given that we're human beings living in some very interesting times. And having said that, perhaps I could suggest three goals we can all set our sights on as we forge ahead this year - goals we can all accomplish together as Malaysians.

So, what can we all do?

One, we can speak up and call for a Malaysia that allows all Malaysians to reach their full potential

A lot has been said about racial and religious harmony since May 9, 2018. That much is true. However, compared to all that has been raised on race and religion, it does seem - at least to me - as if many have forgotten to include Malaysians with disabilities and consider ways to nurture their full potential as Malaysians.

However, all is not lost provided we speak up as allies to champion their rights, such as proper access to an inclusive education in our schools.

We need to be willing to welcome students with disabilities into our classrooms instead of telling them to go to special classes or even special schools.

And at this point, I'll just recall what Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Albinism Association founder Maizan Mohd Salleh shared with me when she urged the government to place children with disabilities in classrooms with able-bodied children.

“As far as possible, we must include these students in mainstream classes. This can have far-reaching effects, as it can stimulate compassion and empathy among students and create a culture that considers and includes people with disabilities instead of one that looks down on us with arrogance,” said Maizan.

This is a point I agree with completely, as this can help break many Malaysians’ stereotypes about people with disabilities, especially when it comes to how “useful” the community is and how such people can contribute to nation-building.

Two, we can show compassion for those facing depression

It is no secret that we've had news of suicide or attempted suicide splashed across our screens on an alarmingly regular basis over the last few months, be it through news articles or viral posts pumped through the social media pipeline.

It is also no secret that this will lead to two different kinds of responses, i.e. people gruesomely mocking the person who committed or attempted suicide and compassionate people who try to rein the uglier gawkers in.

I'll just say at this point that we need far more of the latter and a lot less of the former. We also need to bethere for our friends or family members who might be at risk.

How can we do this? According to advice I found when googling The Befrienders, the most obvious signs are those we can hear with our own ears when people say things like "I can't go on" or "I'm thinking of ending it all".

"The strongest and most disturbing signs are verbal. Such remarks should always be taken seriously.

"Other warning signs include a person becoming depressed or withdrawn, behaving recklessly, suddenly getting affairs in order and giving cherished possessions away, among other marked changes in behaviour such as drug or alcohol abuse or major life changes, such as the loss of a loved one," said The Befrienders on their international website.

So, how can we help someone we are concerned about? According to Befrienders, the best thing we can do is to "be quiet and listen".

"If someone is feeling depressed or suicidal, our first response is to try to help. We offer advice, share our own experiences, try to find solutions. Some depressed and suicidal people are actually seeking concrete information, such as how to find a therapist or where to get specific help.

"However, we'd do better to be quiet and listen. Before people who feel suicidal can begin to explore solutions, they need a safe place to express their fears and anxieties, to be themselves," it said.

Three, we can band together to face the rising costs of living

For my third and final point, I'd like to address a worry that plagues us all - especially millennials who are trying to find financial independence in a world where the cost of living seems to rise and rise.

It occurred to me that my generation might need to relook how we aim to survive in this crazy world. Maybe, just maybe, we need to try to work towards a new goal, one of interdependence instead of complete independence.

What do I mean by this? Simply put, we should consider that we are put on this earth with our own unique set of strengths, privileges and weaknesses so that we learn to come together in a web of mutual cooperation and support.

I feel we can and should reach out within our own social networks to form supportive family-like cells of trusted friends so that we can share our strengths and privileges in a mutually beneficial way.

Everyone gets help in overcoming the challenges they face, be they financial, physical or psychological.

And there you have it. Three goals we can set our sights on in 2019, goals that we can focus on if we want to end this year on a high note.

Can we achieve these objectives? I'd like to believe we can.


   

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