IT’S that time of the year again, when we’re looking at our resolutions, checking them twice and asking if we can stick to them.
Some of us might still be wondering what resolutions to make for 2017. After all, the new year isn’t even a week old yet.
Having said that, I’ve been wondering what would work best for us all when it comes to resolutions. After all, we – myself included – have a nasty habit of planning a long list of resolutions, only to lose the steam to follow them through by the first week of February or even mid-January.
This is why I’ve tried to figure out resolutions that would be easy to stick to, and in doing so a quote often attributed to Mother Teresa struck a chord in me. Basically, she said “not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
The quote gave me some pause and as I read and thought about the deeper meaning behind it, I figured out why it resonated so strongly with me when I thought about many Malaysians today. In a nutshell, the quote reminded me of Malaysians because we’re capable of both great love and great hate.
Yes, it is true that we’re capable of both extremes of the spectrum; this is something I see on a daily basis, especially on social media.
It would seem that too many of us are all too ready to blast out our hatred online, in some cases even celebrating violent death.
This was something I noticed as I read some of the comments left by netizens on The Star Online’s Facebook in the last week of 2016. There was this story on Dec 29 about a woman who accidentally ran over two 26-year-old men when she chased their motorcycle with her car after they robbed her at a traffic light near Evolve Mall in Ara Damansara. Sure enough, many of the comments praised the woman for what she did to the two men and celebrated the fact that they died on the way to the hospital.
Indeed, the most liked comment, with 549 likes, was one which said that she “should reverse and go forward back-to-back” until the two were definitely dead.
Another Facebook user commented that the two should have been thrown in jail and left to die of their wounds there. That comment was the third most popular, with 173 likes.
And these two users weren’t the only ones cheering and celebrating the death of the two men. Out of the over 5,000 people who reacted to it, 809 people reacted with a “haha” to their death and 183 people reacted to say they “loved” the news.
In reading the comments and trying to understand the thought process that led these Facebook users to react the way they did, I can empathise to some extent with where they are coming from. I mean, at times it does seem as if the powers-that-be are more likely to nab cartoonists and yellow-clad activists instead of criminals.
It does encourage a feeling that no-one has our backs and that, where possible, this is the only way criminals can get their due justice.
And yes, I’m aware that by saying this, it’s very likely that I’ll be accused of defending criminals.
Indeed, some will say that I will also share the thirst for blood once I’ve been attacked by snatch thieves when stopped at a red light, and some might even call for me to be robbed so I get a taste of street crime.
Make no mistake, I’m no supporter of crime and I feel that the woman here deserves justice. After all, two men broke into her car at a red light and ran off with her laptop bag and everything in it. If they had survived the accident, I truly feel that they deserved to be arrested and put on trial and then punished, if found guilty.
However, I would stop short of celebrating death and I can’t help but ask how many of us have become so thirsty for justice that we’re willing to celebrate death. The fact remains that two lives were cut short.
Now, with that out of the way, I can also say with a lot more pride that Malaysians are also as capable of great love as they are of great hate; this is also something I’ve seen in the course of my work, both on social media and in real life.
Thankfully, there are many out there with the potential to be caring, compassionate people.
The strongest example that comes to mind is that of the late 11-year-old Muhammad Danish Maarif, who passed away in October 2016 after a battle with bone cancer. Muhammad Danish loved Lego and wanted to go to Legoland, but was too weak to do so after one of his legs was amputated, one of his lungs removed and part of his other lung scrapped in the course of the treatments to address his osteosarcoma.
His wish prompted a group of mothers to rally Malaysians to bring Lego to him. People from all over the country put together donations for him and rallied to make his last days a little brighter.
Indeed, even Lego Malaysia stepped up to the plate after seeing the reactions of people who read about Muhammad Danish through The Star Online.
So, having said all that – what is the point I’m trying to make? In a nutshell, I’m trying to say that we can choose to be compassionate instead of hateful and that we can and should think about what we’re supporting before we start clicking away and hammering our fingers on our keyboards in support of something.
And as for my resolution for 2017? It is to pause and think before I react, to ask myself what is the most rational, compassionate and humane response to the situation before me; to be guided by compassion as opposed to raw emotion, because I would rather be capable of great love than great hate.
I’d like to believe that we can all try this small act of great love in 2017. It might be hard, but I hope we can all make a habit of kindness.
Senior writer Tan Yi Liang’s In Your Face aims to prove that people have more positive power in their hands than they realise, and to challenge them. He can be reached at email@example.com.