Sunday, March 22, 2015

Asking For It

Wowzers. Just came across a Facebook post suggesting that Aisyah (of the recent BFM fracas) was "asking for it" - "it" being the rape and death threats - as the consequence of criticizing hudud. Umm, no - rape and murder is not okay, and there is categorically nothing that should / can legitimize it. Not in the least your personal opinions and preferences.

Also, on a semi-related note: PAS needs to get its act together. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Q&A

On one hand: so many questions; so few answers.
On the other hand: no questions; and therefore no answers as well.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

#Slacktivist

Slacktivism is possibly one of the most irritating things that social media has ever engendered.

"Wooooo lemme take a selfie of myself holding up a symbol or sign, or making some sort of hand gesture. Tag other people. Add hashtag(s). Don't necessarily have to actually read up and gain a nuanced understanding of what I'm campaigning for. Awyeah I've changed the world. #hashtagging4change"

So yeah. Most of the time, our slacktivist posts don't do much beyond: 
i) conveniently letting the world know that we are do-gooders. #inspiring #youths #changetheworld 
ii) enabling us to be humble brags. (e.g. "more people really need to know about this Massive Problem In The World!!!" - subtly implies that poster is a knowledgeable, well-read global citizen) 
iii) giving us an excuse to post selfies. 

That said, though, I would concede that there definitely are exceptions to my snark; some social media movements have legitimately sparked some great, actual responses to significant issues. And those are awesome. It's just the co-opting of "activist" causes for mindless, feel-good, self-promoting purposes that really get to me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Homelessness: Safe Hugs

I hugged a homeless man by the subway station yesterday (this was Kevin, if anyone cares to remember the granola bar post I put on Facebook a while back). And it was, by far, the best moment of the day for me - Kevin just has a way of making anyone's day that little bit sunnier, if only one would bother to stop by and exchange a word or two with him. 

But then once I got home, a stray thought entered my mind: whoa, people would totally flip if I told them that I go around New York hugging homeless people. And even as I write this quasi stream-of-consciousness piece, my mind subconsciously, warily, carefully filters words such as "homeless", "man", "hug" and such - for fear that some person who cares about me a little too much might tell me to get my act together, and to stay off the streets entirely, and to keep safe. Or he or she might tell me that Kevin is dangerous... that Kevin is not a friend.

But why? No one flips when I hug a college friend. Or even just an acquaintance I barely know. Or even a "safe", middle-class, well-brought-up stranger I've just met. But they'd flip if I hugged a homeless person whom I pass by (and talk to) virtually every week. Is that to say that homeless people are inherently dangerous? That it's not actually plausible for someone in my social class to be friends with a homeless person? 

Far too often, we treat the homeless as little more than receptacles in which we throw our coins. We trade our coins in for the assuagement of guilt and obligation, for the socially cheaper and more convenient avoidance of eye contact. We throw our coins in to convince ourselves that we have checked off our civic checkbox of "helping the needy" - when, in actual fact, we have failed at the most basic level to acknowledge the humanity of the individuals whom our eyes uncomfortably glaze over (even as we drop coins into their cups). This is the woman standing by the doors of Chipotle, this is the scruffy man sleeping by the steps of the church, this is Kevin, who stands at the 110th St subway entrance every evening.

At this point, a question that would probably (and quite understandably) have emerged in any reasonably caring and concerned person's mind is this: but what of safety? Let me address this on two levels. On the first level, the lack of a home does not, by any means, instantaneously make one a criminal. In all the time I've spent talking to homeless people, I've only ever met a few who - for lack of a better term - seemed "sketchy". (One was too inebriated to say anything sensible, and the other was evidently mentally unstable. But I struggle to find any other examples of hostile homeless individuals I've encountered other than these two.) For the most part, many of the homeless people I've befriended in the past have been strikingly nice. We've had conversations about their travels, about their children, about the circumstances which got them out on the streets. And I've told them about my classes, my life in college, my thoughts on life in general. And for the record, nothing terrible, nothing headline-grabbing, has ever happened to me in their company.

On another level, perhaps, even if homeless people were unsafe to be around, would that alone justify our distancing ourselves from them? I write this part from a Christian perspective - and my personal view on this is: no. We're not justified in throwing a few quarters into a cup and then averting our gaze from the individual to which the cup belongs. If Christ is Emmanuel, and if Emmanuel means "God with us", then his name itself declares that he is not a distant God. He has drawn closest to the broken and friendless and hurting in the world. And furthermore, by no means did he come to Earth to lead a "safe" life - rather, he came with the purpose of dying (and if you take some time to think about it, we're pretty unsafe people ourselves; I mean, we killed him). So, to cut to the chase: I don't actually believe that we've been called to live "safe" lives, away from the sidewalks, away from the corners of the subway, away from the homeless. Sure, we may (and should!) take sensible and wise precautions wherever we can, yet at the same time, we were never called to a quarantined, sterile, utopian existence of ignorance and indifference.

So maybe I'll end with a quote. It's one of my favorites, not just because I adore C.S. Lewis - but also because it reminds me that love is often most powerful, most authentic, when it involves some element of self-sacrifice, discomfort, and vulnerability:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lawan

With all that's going on in Malaysia now, I'm glad I'll be of voting age not too long from now.

Yet at the same time... with all that's going on in Malaysia now, I'm not sure how much of a difference my vote would even make.

But still. Lawan tetap lawan. I say this not necessarily in full support of one political party or coalition (because we know that either side is probably terribly flawed in some way or other) - but still. Lawan tetap lawan... against injustice, against corruption, against disunity. Lawan tetap lawan... for justice, for mercy, for humility.

I may be thousands of miles away from my tanah air - the land for which I weep watery tears - but my heart for it remains steadfast.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Arteriosclerosis

Best convo with Carol last night -

"The heart is such a stupid organ."
"Yeah that's why I go to JJ's Place. To kill it."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Be Still My Soul - Kari Jobe


Be still, my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still, my soul, the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mustahil

when everything - the world, circumstances, people
- push you towards something,
and perhaps, even a little part of yourself
pushes too -
yet when you know
no, you remember
that you should pull away:
this is the place where
you stand;
uncertain,
dragged in one direction
and then the other
yet you move nowhere.
you stand
thirsty for the future
wary of the past
and you continue
presently
standing
stock still.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Work

Just going to quickly throw together a bunch of unstructured thoughts...

I think it's incredibly astute how some people say that half the battle is won once you identify your pain points. You don't necessarily have to even come close to alleviating them - it's just that finally knowing what exactly is screwing you over, putting a name to it, not having that nagging feeling at the back of your mind... can be surprisingly helpful.

I know it's a bit too early in the semester to be making judgments about my classes - yet this week's classes have helped me to recognize certain things about myself that I wasn't necessarily aware of before. And it's certainly made me feel better, get a better grip on why last semester wasn't entirely fulfilling (not grade-wise, but learning-wise), and how the coming semester can be an improvement of that. For one, the fall semester saw me attributing my stress levels to the sheer volume of readings and written work that I had to do. Yet what I've realized this week is that it isn't the volume of work that typically causes me the most stress; it's disinterest in my work that does. 

I came to this understanding after impulsively (and audaciously) registering for a 4000-level politics class requiring an inhuman number of readings and a 25-page research paper. Yet - unlike the case of my largely painful (and uncompleted) history readings last semester - I've found myself actually immersed in the course material. Two days straight, and I'm still nowhere close to finishing them... but I don't mind. I'm learning. I'm engaged. I'm interested. And this encourages me, because it tells me that hey, I still have a huge capacity to love learning - something that didn't really happen for me last semester.

That said, it's not as if the world is all rainbows and unicorns and I'm going to enjoy every single hour of my academic life (I mean, I do have UWriting this semester haha) - but at the very least, I'm hoping that this semester will be in some ways intellectually rewarding. But I guess that remains to be seen. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lihatlah

apa yang engkau lihat?

aku melihat pokok berharga
engkau melihat balak yang mahal.
aku melihat tanah kaya dengan rahsia alam
engkau melihat konsesi lumayan.
aku melihat sungai, saluran darah Bumi
engkau melihat empangan, saluran kewangan kocekmu.

sampai bila akan engkau terus 
melihat tanpa menganggap,
mendengar tanpa mengerti?
sampai bila akan engkau terus
puas dengan kebutaan?
sampai bila akan engkau terus
enggan melihat?

kita terdesak. namun
kita terus melihat
meneliti
memandang
engkau.