The virus and the reboot button

  • Over the Top
  • Tuesday, 14 Apr 2020

THE Covid-19 pandemic has done something that only a global war or a supervolcano eruption could do – push the pause button on our lives. Everyone is anxiously waiting for the movement control order (MCO) to be totally lifted so that we can hit the resume button and continue our lives from the point where things were halted.

After one month, that might have been possible. After two months, many are still optimistic and itching to press the resume button.

But the experts are saying this may take a few years rather than a few months.

What now? Will our lives “resume” as before, albeit in a halting or second-hand manner? That’s the best we can do, right? Would we ever consider such a drastic action as pushing the reboot button to totally reconfigure the computer software that is analogous to our dream state life?

What? Is our “real” life a “dream state” life?

Well, let’s examine what a dream is. Can we control our dreams? Half the time they go on and on and we barely make heads or tails of them. At other times, we are too busy running from the ghosts or tigers that keep popping up at every door and window that we pass by in our dreams. See, no control.

Isn’t our life the same? Our debts, our salaries, our efforts to travel leisurely, our children in schools and universities, and our wants and more wants that go on and on.

There does not seem to be a pause button or even a stop button. Unless, of course, we fall sick. But that is just for a week or so, and then on with the show. No stops, no gaps.

On and on until death claims us all. And just before that, we suddenly wake up and say, “That’s it? Is that all of it? I’m going to die? What the hell has my 45 years of life been all about?” Or, “What was my 70 years all for?”

Then we realise – we never once considered using the pause button.

If we had, we might then consider using the reboot button and re-examining our lives. But we are too busy to read Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra.

Our lives is one empty petrol tank after another. After one tank is used up, we fill it up. Then we fill it up again. Where are we going? Who cares? As long as the tank is not empty.

Who says so? Well, my friends, my boss, my PM and my conscience, who’s busy gobbling up Baskin-Robbins World Class Chocolate ice cream. Want some cream with that?

We have never considered the pause button. When we run out of batteries, we just plug in a new power source or get new batteries. Senang saja. Apa kisah? (It’s so simple. Why worry?)

Suddenly, a Mr C barges in, places his fat finger on the pause button and grins at us. Mr C’s expression reminds us of Pennywise, the clown in the movie It.

We cannot yell at him because he has big teeth and his fingers are talons of steel. We can only scurry to a corner on lockdown and wait until the clown moves elsewhere. Only then we can look for the resume button.

But here’s the problem. The clown will NEVER truly leave us. We have to live with it! How are we going to do that?

There is an obvious answer but we have never thought about it, never want to think about it and do not even dare to contemplate it. Hit the damn reboot button! Reconfigure the operating system. Reconfigure the game of life. Reconfigure and reformat your very existence.

We are people who have some kind of education and some way of thinking in a different manner, aren’t we? Or are those years spent in our education system merely empty exercises of activities, grades and papers? Is there no thinking ability? No courageous and far-flung visionary ideas?

Our children may be spending the next one year at home. That is the clue. Fathers or mothers may have to make the outrageous decision to... err... stay at home.

What happens to the RM500,000 dream of a condo or the sleek BMW? Do those things outweigh the safety of our children? Who dares to think of an alternate future?

What education do our children really need? Are we going to take the whole syllabus and ram it down the children’s throats via the Internet? Seriously? Online learning is the answer? Is that so? Is that all that can be said about the shape of education to come?

I would have taken this opportunity to jettison 70% of what we teach our students nowadays, reconfigure a syllabus that would better suit home schooling and package online education that is not standardised.

If I were a young father or mother, I would discuss with my spouse the possibility of me taking leave the whole year or resigning. We would save on the childcare fees and my petrol and we would see if I could better educate our children at home.

If I were the PM, instead of just helping Makcik Kiah, I would pay RM1,000 a month to all parents who stay at home to teach their children.

This is to ensure our future leaders of this country will be educated in a different manner than they are today.

It has taken a virus to hit the pause button on our dream state lives of endless fictitious ends, wants and needs. There are a thousand and one ways we can reboot and reset our lives.

Our companies, shops, universities, NGOs and government are waiting for the reboot button to be pushed. Should we not do it for ourselves and our own sake? If not, can’t we do it for our children’s safety and well-being? At the very least, can the nation reboot for that, please?

Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at UCSI University. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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