Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Degeneration M

One Gen Y dude once branded me an iconoclast. I had to look up what it means on Google.

Well, it's not difficult to be cynical in Malaysia, and I'm glad I'm not the only one, albeit the only one with brains. My entire generation is filled with people who smile at bullshit. However, cynics, in their rejection to believe in the normal, sometimes believe in the paranormal.

Let's back up a bit. We give the Malaysian education system a bad time. Tonight, I will tell you some of the reasons why, from my perspective.

I went through 16 years of the local education system. There are millions of us - the majority of the populace, in fact. In primary school, for kids between seven to 12 years of age, we were told not to ask questions. I asked several which got me in trouble - why can't Muslims eat pigs? If Heaven can provide us with all our heart's desires, can I exchange virgins for a transforming jet like in Macross?

Those questions got me and my classmates to stand on our chairs. The teachers were ready to punish the entire class for my questions, in order to create a situation where other kids would view me as a troublemaker, hence pressuring me to refrain from asking these awkward questions they do not even dare to answer.

In secondary school, I had these questions which again got me in trouble - I once had to remove my desk from class and sit near the staircase at the end of the block. I also noticed how society and culture was forming around me.

High school to me, was like Lord of the Flies, Sleepers and Shawshank Redemption rolled into one. But mostly for me - Lord of the Flies. I saw how society, culture and the whole structure was supported by the belief of all individuals on certain laws, rules.

For instance, no matter what happens between kids, you never, EVER, tell an adult. Anyone who broke those rules found themselves ostracised or worse. It was a society run by fear. It was the most potent currency - something that will keep mass numbers of people in line.

There was also popularity, but that is not unique to Malaysia.

In college, I saw a bunch of kids running around asking why is the world hurting them so. They had no idea why they were there, or where they were going. Hell, I didn't know what the fuck was going on.

Given the opportunity not to attend classes, I decided to play Super Robot Wars 2 on a friend's Gameboy instead. For the first time in my life, I properly failed a subject at the end of the semester - co-curriculum, because I only went to two and a half of the classes.

I saw in my course-mates the vacant stare of young people who were mostly aimless. They did not know what they wanted in life. Those who do, merely imitated their parents and what they wished for their children.

Have you ever seen a 20-something guy or girl with the dreams of a 50 year old? It's fucking sad.

I admit that I was still ruled by fear back then. I was scared. The fuck was I gonna do? Later, I decided that a degree is just a degree. I was going to graduate and fuck everything - I was going to be a writer.

Meanwhile, I still had those questions about why Muslims can't eat pigs. So I went to UM's Akademi Pengajian Islam (API) and asked an Ustazah there. She told me to come on a Saturday morning so she could make me stand in front of a classroom to be heckled by API students for daring to ask such questions.

From primary school to college, the reaction to questions was the same. In 16 years, the message was loud, clear and ultimately repeated over and over again. Do not question, and be afraid.

Nowadays, every day when I question everything I read or hear from any source, I think back to the Malaysian education system and my immense mental capacity projects a huge astral construct - a fist stretched outwards with the middle finger straight to the sky.

Who's afraid now, bitch?