August 27th, 2006 by Hafiz Noor Shams
I have just enough hearing the older generation telling us – the younger generations – that we do not appreciate the meaning of independence. It’s as if these older generations know what’s the meaning of independence better than us, especially when they themselves didn’t go through the struggle of independence to start with. So, what moral authority do they have to tell us that?
Many of the older generations assume the moral authority because they’re older than us. But seriously, just because a person lives through a period which happens to be a period of national struggle doesn’t mean that person fight in that struggle. In all practical senses, many are merely spectators and free riding on others’ struggle for some ideals. In short, moral authority is earned and it doesn’t come automatically with age.
Perhaps, the reason the older generations keep telling us that we don’t appreciate the struggle Malaysia has gone through is due to our questioning nature. Perhaps, our seniors are uncomfortable that the more open-minded younger generations – the liberals – that keep testing the norms and boundaries and refusing to adhere to orthodoxy introduced and set in place by them just for the sake of adhering . If that is so, perhaps they need to be reminded that their generations too fought against for changes at one time or another. If norms and orthodoxies weren’t challenged, Malaysia would still probably be British Malaya.
If they indeed fear changes, then it wouldn’t be too harsh to say that they’re trying to preserve their legacies. Since the more liberal generations are open for changes for the better which might threaten the status quo, they disagree with our conducts. Hence, the accusation of being ungrateful.
Perhaps, they failed to realize that time changes and there are new challenges ahead. An entity will always need to reinvent itself to take on new unique challenges. If the new generations don’t challenge norms, how do you expect us to overcome new challenges? How do you expect us – both the older and the younger generations; the society – as a whole to progress? How do you expect us to move forward if we’re all stuck in orthodox norms? Do you expect us to clung to death to old models while facing infinite unique challenges that require new models?
Time does move on and changes do occur. To survive, we need to adapt and be flexible. Evolution will guarantee those that failed to adapt to regress into oblivion. Those that adapt will have fighting chances.
So, the next time anybody from the older generations tell you, the younger generations – especially the liberal ones – that you don’t know how good you have it, tell them back that, at least we are willing to change and adapt. Our minds are open to new paradigms. Our minds are free. Ask them back, are you willing to do the same? Is your mind free?
Tell those uncles of yours, those parents of yours, some older persons on TV – may they be politicians or some strangers, no matter who – that freeing the mind is harder than freeing ourselves from the old chain of colonialism.
If they don’t get that, then tell them, don’t tell us that we don’t know how good we have it. At the very least, we don’t let others do our thinking for ourselves. Tell them, our definition of freedom is much larger than mere physical independence. Forget the clichés the mainstream media tells you. Our definition of freedom is the state of free mind. With a free mind, comes liberty in the truest sense.
But of course, don’t tell them anything if you didn’t think of this critically.