Recently, a photo of a few men sitting in the LRT while a pregnant women was left standing besides them went viral on social media. Many netizens joined the person who uploaded the photo in cursing and shaming the men for being intolerant.
The twist of the story happened when one of the passenger in the photo defended his action by saying that he did not notice the presence of the women when the picture was taken, but as soon as he did, he gave up his seat. This counter-attack post also went viral as the man uttered his disgust to the photographer for shaming him in public without firstly clarifying the issue, or even informing him regarding the presence of the pregnant lady. Surely, such condemning, dramatic stories are favored by netizens and spreads fast through the internet like fire.
But the question comes back to; why didn’t the photographer took the initiative to tell the man that he should give his seat to the women? Why did she prefer to take the photo and make it go viral (and appearing very pissed off about it) than solving it there and then?
Now hold your horses, let’s not blame the lady just yet. Because the ugly truth is, this particular attitude has absorb in the majority, if not in each and everyone of us. While we personally may not go as far as posting up bad things about others in social media, when something is not right, we would rather just look away than fixing it. To tell someone they are doing things wrongly, despite how obviously wrong it is, somehow, has become like a sin. A taboo. And the implication of such.. is tremendous.
I remember my childhood days when we would go out to play with our neighbors with very minimum monitoring from adults.. and all was well. Parents didn’t have to worry if we were not playing in their own backyard, because the parents of whichever backyard we chose to play at would keep an eye on us. For us kids, while we were still taught about never talk to strangers, we didn’t have to bother much about safety because basically everyone in the neighborhood were our guardians. On top of the safe and free environment for us to play and explore, we were also very mindful of our behavior and actions, because any wrong doings would “magically” be known to our parents the very moment we reach home. That’s how strong the community was back then.
Today however, the majority of us no longer feel safe letting out kids roaming freely to explore not even the little piece of garden in front of our very own house. You can’t even put your kid down in a public surau while taking your ablution without worrying about his safety because there are so many cases of child abduction and what not even in places of worship. And while there are undeniably many reasons contributing to that, I would like to emphasize that a big portion of that is attributed to the fact that we have become a selfish, isolated community. Nearly everybody today goes with the attitude of “mind your own business” and holding on to the wrong message of “jangan jaga tepi kain orang”.
When we stopped telling school kids to watch their manners in public and to not loiter in shopping malls, that’s when we started breeding a society of kaki lepak and smokers among our children. When we stopped telling our young girls to dress modestly in public, and our boys to lower their gaze, that’s when we permissed our girls to be victims of rape and murders. When we stopped telling our neighbors about their children’s mischievous behaviors, that’s when we loss the unity in community.
Day in and day out, in papers or social media, we are told not to “dictate” what other people should or should not do. Any act to correct something wrong in public will be shamed and judged via social media with sinis statements such as “acting holier than thou” and “as if you’ve never done anything wrong yourself”. Some starts including the parents with statements in the likes of “my parents never said anything, who are you to tell me I can’t do this” while some others will go as far as “does he/she thinks he’s/she’s God to decide what is wrong or right”.
To add salt to the wound, religious and cultural values are frowned upon, as they are deemed to be irrelevant, while foreign and more liberal lifestyles are imported to our shores. That’s when you start reading articles such as “Do not tell our girls how to dress up” and “Do not poke your nose in your neighbors affairs” that further challenges the status quo and making it seems as if what was commonly right all these while is actually wrong and unacceptable, while what was widely inappropriate in the past are actually not that bad and should be allowed to prosper.
All the above has demolished the walls of brotherhood and unity among members of the community. Alas, we are left with a community whom, upon seeing something wrong, would rather turn a blind eye, or just opt to make it go viral in social media – a better alternative than being shamed in attempt to fix the problem there and then.
But, dear Malaysians,.. that unity, that feeling of connectivity, feeling of being safe within a community that I believe the majority of us has felt in the past, do not and will not just re-appear out of thin air. It requires a collective effort to rebuild that “unity trust wall” surrounding us again. It requires pure determination to uphold our common shared values. It requires each and every one of us to take action, to start talking to each other, encouraging positive acts and correcting what is wrong. When common sense are no longer common among our community, we should speak up, with hikmah, to bring people back to sense. Together, let’s bring back the loss unity in community.
Hanan bt Othman
International Women’s Alliance for Family Institutions and Quality Education (WAFIQ)