Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Ringgitisation of Happiness

Yes, happiness comes at a cost. It has always been of my keen interest to know the reason behind some people's satisfaction with the least they possess in their life. Being a whiny (and slightly ungrateful) person as I am, I just want to know what's actually behind everything I've been doing all this while. I have a goal of having this and achieving that in my life, and anything less rosy or fulfilling will surely be considered as a symbol of abject failure, a reason for unhappiness. I have a high level of expectation for what's forthcoming; I want things to evolve the way I want it to be. Anything perceived as expensive, stylish, and flashy is worshiped.

This, I believe, does not just happen to me. It basically happens to everyone else who's unlucky enough to be exposed to all the perceived good things in their life; hence their high expectations. To make matters worse, perceptions are transient, thus the society will keep on being enslaved to their ideals of a 'good life'.

While I'm working really hard to increase my relevance in the modern society (working on a good uni degree, for example), it glares me that many of the so-called unfortunates can never dream of getting a good education, nor will they be able to be trained to survive in the modern world. Having surrendered to their 'fate' of mediocrity, they truly accept anything that comes by in the future, as long as their sustenance is kept. They have a simpler approach to their lives; living is about living the day you breathe presently, it's not about sacrificing life as it is now for the sake of a better prospect in the future.

As stagnant as monotonous their lives as we see them, there's one thing that's most interesting about them that I find difficult to fathom; they are happy and content with their lives.

How can they be so? Well, happiness has never been (and will never be) tangible, but it has been found that people who live in poorer countries with less opportunities for personal advancement tend to be happier than those who are blessed enough to be born in more prosperous countries. Countries like Bhutan, Guatemala and Jamaica have happier populations than the more industrialized United States and European Countries. Even pessimistic Malaysians are happier than Australians, in general.

Thus, we should never feel an automatic sense of superiority when we see some kampung kids running around half-naked around their village filled with small houses with gutted roofs, since they may even be happier than most of us. And there are always classic tales of people who seem to have everything (fame and fortune) but end up taking their own lives due to their unhappiness within.

Therefore, while material possessions are important, our general perception on monetary wealth as a sole force that brings happiness to an individual may need to be revamped to eventually include other factors as well.

Faizal Hamssin

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Of Rationality.

Sorry blog, I seem to have ditched you in favour of Twitter. But here the new post goes :)

I normally write some random stuff here. These may include the slightest elements of our everyday's life that I actually view (or try to view) from some different perspectives to actually give the typicality a different facet. But now, let's get back to some obvious things.

Let's get serious.

Malaysians LOVE to grumble about their country. Malaysians complain a lot.

Malaysians are generally ashamed not to thrash their own country. This is what I see. Clearly.

Yes, we have to admit that we're partially justified in feeling so. We're not wealthy enough to be at the same tier with the Eurozone economies. Even Greece is wealthier than us. We're not efficient enough to be Japan. Our cities are not clean enough like our uber-organized neighbor across the causeway.

However, saying things out rationally and putting out emotional hyperbolic gibberish are two different things. And it has, sadly, been a trend among Malaysians to do the latter. It is just a trend nowadays; if you are satisfied and happy with your country you're actually closer to being labelled 'skema' (boring) and even 'kampung' (outdated). Let's face it, youngsters want to be cool (or at least appear cool).

There are the things that my Malaysian peers always say when it comes to the country. The immaturity of these arguments, are so emotionally, not rationally-moulded that I feel compelled to comment on them, based on the relevant and internationally-recognized statistics and tangible facts.

This should be one of them:

Malaysia should be the most corrupt nation in the world. Our corruption is even worse than that of Zimbabwe, lah!

Fact: Malaysia was ranked at #56 in 2009, and its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) point fell from 5.2 in 2003 to 4.5 last year, which denoted an increasing level of corruption in the country throughout the mentioned period. Zimbabwe was ranked at #146 with a CPI of 2.2. Therefore, it's silly to compare Malaysia to a economically-struggling Sub Saharan country. Let's compare Malaysia to the countries of nearly similar level of economic development. Turkey, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa are ranked at 55, 106, 61, 89, respectively. These countries have nearly similar per-capita GDP as compared to ours, and the corruption level in their countries is either higher, a little lower, or equal to that of ours. Some developed countries, like Italy (#63), Greece (#71) suffered from an even higher level of corruption. It is also a common knowledge among the analysts that corruption is more likely to be rampant in poorer countries, so based on this very thought, it is safe to say that we are not doing TOO bad when it comes to containing corruption in our country. We're certainly not the most corrupt country in the world, but this doesn't mean that we should stop working hard to fight corruption, which is still prevalent in the society. Just look up to Malaysian Insider and you'll find new corruption scandals being reported on a daily basis, which is good, since it's our societal responsibility to report, anyway. We should work on fixing the loopholes we may have in our system or whatever (I'm not good in giving advice on governance, anyway) but please people, stop grumbling like we're doomed. As in really doomed and done.

That's just a chip off the old block.

Talking from a different dimension, I personally grumble, and I whine about the country often too. Well, with the very fabric of our country being threatened by so many uncertainties-arousing occurrences, doing so is just irresistible. We have an distinct form of puritanism emerging in our country currently; there are voices that demand for a superior, special treatment to be given to their people regardless of the facts that they're also made of the same flesh and bone as their counterparts'. This very group of individuals use the pretext of 'protecting Islam' to justify their hybrid of racism while ignoring the fact that the different races are of Allah's creations; not that Allah's gonna be bothered by your skin colour or the 'keris' tucked in your 'samping' - it's your heart that matters the most, and the good legacy that you've left to humanity even after you died. And there's another group of people who are so preoccupied with their 'job' of peeping people in their private space to gain a sort of satisfaction from doing that, from which they also earn their living. They totally paint a negative image on what is supposed to be a beauty of their own religion. They will then do what they do best; being rude to the so-called moral offenders and the Malaysian tabloids will go on with a sauced-up version of what happened 'last night'. These are all done while Nurin's murderer are roaming around, probably looking for another victim. But at least Nurin went straight to heaven, for her innocent soul had no impurity.

p.s I looooove this one. Enjoy :)

Faizal Hamssin