NEXT week, we will be celebrating our 60th National Day. And how far we have come. I still remember as a child seeing the brightly-lit “M” for Merdeka on Penang Hill, not really knowing what it meant, and much later gathering in excitement at Dataran Merdeka with my Fifth Form schoolmates to take part in the celebration.
Since then, we have advanced greatly and achieved so much. Yet there is still a sense of nostalgia for the past. Why?
And why do our people have to be told to be patriotic? Patriotism is basically love for the country and there are many ways of showing it. It is indeed heart-warming to see many programmes being enthusiastically embraced especially by the younger generation.
Littering is unpatriotic and so is vandalism. One should remember that the cost for cleaning and repair is paid for by one’s hard-earned money in the form of taxes.
What about bad public behaviour? Bringing the country into disrepute is unpatriotic. It is pointless to continue bringing up the issue, especially in schools, that the colonialists stole from us. They left a long time ago but there are citizens who are robbing the country now. Corruption is definitely unpatriotic, more so when the corrupt are certainly not in need. It is a disease which will reach epidemic proportions if left unchecked.
A few years ago when I was doing a lesson on prominent Malaysians, a pupil stood up and shouted, “Tunku Abdul Rahman pengkhianat (traitor)!” I was shocked and stopped the lesson to find out why a 12-year-old could think this way.
And this is the other problem. Some people have strong but negative opinions and have influenced those who are impressionable who talk without knowing the true facts. See how easily people can be conned by false information, enough to swear by it? There is so much malicious and toxic speech and comments spewed up especially on the Internet that we don’t sound Malaysian anymore.
No wonder many feel nostalgic about the past. People were much nicer to each other back then.
Heading to the 40th National Day, three teachers in my school were asked what message we wished to convey to the youth. I would like to add another now. I wish more people would be kinder to one another. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice and one can do so without being conned or taken advantage of, not to mention feeling good for the rest of the day. After all, if things get tough we will need each other.
To respect and be respected, that will be a truly human achievement. It would be very nice indeed if it becomes a characteristic of every Malaysian.
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