“This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.”
– Barack Obama
I got to hand it to you, for a politician, Obama does have a way with words that I haven’t heard in a long time. Words that I don’t think many people say anymore, let alone act upon. Whatever charisma that got Barack Obama to the top would probably keep him there, but whatever change he has promised will come to America will come not from him, but from the Americans that were inspired to do something about their own lives and their own country.
In so many ways, that’s the very thing that I have always said to be lacking from my own home country – Malaysia. It isn’t enough that Malaysians stood up and voted for an opposition government because they have long lost faith in the empty promises and political hiccups of the current ruling government, no. If Malaysia truly wants to change, it would be with the constant force of it’s citizens and not merely from a single moment in time to which they can later sit back and expect change to happen.
But that’s the truth about Malaysia and it’s citizens.
We are so focused with the singular moments of change that we forget what change really is about and what it takes to get there. You cannot solve economic problems overnight. You cannot disband a racially charged socio-political culture in a day. You cannot alter everything that Malaysia was raised to be, its essence, its very identity, in a single election.
Yet almost all the Malaysians I know, from old high school mates to people I’ve only met in recent times, do not seem to want change. Malaysians want to make a difference, but are not willing to go the extra mile to get there. They are willing to make an effort to vote for a better tomorrow, but are not willing to keep making an effort to create that better tomorrow. How can any of us hope to wake up to a better tomorrow, when we are not willing to throw out the things that we hold on to yesterday?
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for change. I’m all for shaping Malaysia into a country I can call my own. For that I have always done my part in the hopes of change. Not by the voting for a party because the other one isn’t working out for all of us, but by working to change the mindset of the very people that build our country from ground up. If a nation is built upon its citizens, then through the attitudes and actions of its citizens, and not it’s merely its leaders, is a nation truly defined.
That is where I have always believed the true face of Malaysia’s change will come from. Not from the words of politicians. Not from the actions of a political party. But from you and me. From your parents, your brothers and your sisters. From your friends, your colleagues and your superiors. As long as we stop blaming other people and start admitting that the problem starts with us. As long as we constantly recognise the problems we face today and deal with the responsibility ourselves. As long as we are willing to endure the hardship that comes with change and constantly work at it.
So it goes back to the words uttered at Obama’s victory speech. Whatever victory we sought by legal means was never the change we wanted. That only opened the doors to an opportunity for us to work for that change. But at this moment, while America has renewed it’s chance to create a better future for themselves, we as Malaysians have since gone back to our old habits.
Whatever dream of a better tomorrow for Malaysia has failed for now. There is still a long way to go before we are capable of making a change that will last for generations to come. But I will do my part as I have always done. Maybe one day, you’ll realise the real part you can play as well. When that time comes, then maybe there is hope after all.
I know we can do it. I just don’t know whether I’ll live long enough to see that we can.