The book itself was interesting as it purported to examine the science of the invisible in physics, medicine and spirituality.
It is a book that has to be read with an open mind, while some knowledge of basic science would be helpful.
One of the things that caught my attention in the book was his observation and analysis of communication.
He examined the communication in a larger context between matter, postulating that even objects “communicate” with each other.
I believe this is one postulation that all those who have studied science will readily accept – that communication between matters occurs via electro-magnetic waves.
Animals have their own way of communicating and so do human beings. In other words, in life, there is constant exchange of information. To quote Massimo:
“The exchange of information is life and there is no life without communication”.
If it is true that the exchange of information is life, then there are certain things that becomes very clear to me.
The quality of our communication skills and the opportunity to do so will determine the quality and nature of the life that we create.
Admittedly, this a complex matter (like most things in life), but has to be addressed nevertheless.
Firstly, let us examine the quality of our communication skills.
The quality of our communication will be influenced by, among other things, the importance that our society attaches to this. If the Malaysian society knows and agrees that communicative abilities are vital for a progressive society and important in most aspects of our life, then we would be seriously designing our education system to “teach” this skill right from primary schools.
It is not just a question of identifying which language or languages to teach but to inculcate an attitude that respects and understands the importance of communication.
Unless we want to continue “breeding” generally non-critical thinking Malaysians, we have to start teaching creative and critical thinking skills in schools.
It has unfortunately become a mass delusion in our country that every person simply by virtue of having an academic qualification is deemed to be a person with good thinking skills. Far from it.
On the contrary, I continue to witness biased thinking, prejudices and flawed thinking patterns even among the so called educated especially when it comes to the topic of religion, politics and ethnicity.
I do not blame them because they have never been exposed to thinking skills.
They have only been exposed to some knowledge or trained in some basic skill in their chosen field of study.
To compound the confusion in communication, there is the also the vested interest among us who will deliberately be dishonest in their thinking and arguments.
Factors like these aggravate the difficulty of making everyone understand something even if it is obvious and simple. Thus, miscommunications and misunderstandings ensue.
For the wise, matured and compassionate person, this fact of difficulty will make them more emphatic and patient with human nature but for the foolish and ignorant, make them more arrogant.
Hence, I would propose that the new Education Minister seriously look into how thinking skills – creative, critical and analytical – can be taught in schools and inculcate the positive attitude towards these skills.
A society that does not have a respectful attitude towards the seeking of knowledge can never be taught anything.
Secondly, is the increased opportunity for communication.
The government must free up space for greater communication and exchange of views between the citizens.
This means legislation and protection of those who want to exercise free speech responsibly so as to provide a conducive environment for the exchange and discussion of ideas that have an impact on our lives as human beings and on the nation in general.
We can never be a great nation if we treat our brains as a decoration that is not to be used.
We also cannot be a great nation if what can discussed is measured by the standards of our fellow citizens who have, with apologies, lesser cognitive abilities or knowledge or awareness.
The clever ones in the society have to hold the hands of the lesser ones and bring them up to a better thinking level. That’s evolution.
Hence not only laws that unreasonably restrict the opportunities for expression and exchange of ideas should be abolished, but laws should also be passed to protect the right to express dissenting views, however unpopular, whether it pertains to religion, politics or anything.
Our country also needs laws to counter hate speeches especially that which pertains to ethnicity and religion.
However, it must be properly drafted and debated to ensure that it is not oppressive of productive, academic and civil discussions of the relevant issues.
At the same time, proper exercise of freedom of speech must be protected against the intimidation and threats by those who do not want to allow alternative perspectives to be heard.
The enforcement agencies must actively protect legitimate freedom of expression.
Otherwise our collective intellectual ability and our ability to civilly disagree will still remain at a disgraceful low. We will continue to hide our mental incompetence behind excuses such as "it is a sensitive",
"it is not our culture","rakyat is not ready" and so on.
The draconian ISA has been abolished and it has freed up communicative space.
When is the Sedition Act going to be reviewed as promised? Where are the conversations and proposals from the Government side to reform communication, media and information laws to increase citizen participation in the building of the nation?
Thus far, everyone speaks about education without highlighting the importance of improving the software (thinking skill) that is required to process the education.
Likewise everyone discusses freedom of speech without considering the quality of the communication and the opportunities available to do so.
This is what I mean when I often say that many waste time with peripherals, forgetting the root of the issues.
The writer is the founder of Rapera Movement, a movement that encourages thinking and compassion among the citizens.
The views expressed here are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sunday Star.
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