Living out here far away from a country that brought me up to believe that your belief in a higher being was more important than your actions as a human being has taught me a great deal of things. The most important of which is that any reference to God whether your belief or mine, doesn’t really matter…at least not to the actions of this world.
Yet time and time again, I am constantly reminded by my own countrymen that part of the values that define Asian culture is the deeply rooted spiritual values towards one’s belief in God no matter who it is, no matter what the situation, whether life or love. The belief of God is ubiquitous and should be part of whatever matters you put in the consideration.
So this presents a problem, at least in my part. Because I don’t put stock into any belief in God, my actions are often dictated by logic that differs from moral standards that come with religion. While my association with people out here is never tinted by hardcore beliefs on either side, I always tend to forget that many people in Malaysia are in fact oblivious to the social and cultural impact that is dictated by religious reasons. Let me give you a brief example of what I’m talking about:
Girl: You’re a pretty nice guy. Maybe we should hang out together more often.
Me: Nice. Most people think otherwise cause I’m Malay.
Girl: You’re Muslim?
Me: Yeah, I thought you knew. But it’s only on paper.
Girl: Maybe we shouldn’t hang out together that much.
Most Malaysians tend to defend themselves by stating that they are not driven by racial or religious stereotype or that I’m looking through some rose-tinted glasses. But few are willing to admit to themselves, let alone others that despite the fact that Malaysia is a multicultural country, tolerance for a race or belief doesn’t necessarily mean the acceptance of it. And that is the sad truth about a majority the of people in Malaysia.
I’m saying this in part because it accounts for what ticks me off most about Malaysian students overseas, those that tend to flock together in a bunch, never going above and beyond to experience another culture in a country they are a guest to because it’s too strange for them and it doesn’t agree to their culture or belief. It ticks me off that those educated in foriegn countries that come back are no better than if they were studying locally because that’s all that mattered to them. It ticks me off a great deal that these are the same people who eventually argue that the western civilization is morally corrupt and otherwise “evil”.
What a bunch of whinging ungrateful pricks.
It’s bad enough that those who don’t have the chance to experience life in another country are parochial, narrowminded and think that because you’re still a student you don’t know what independence or resposibility means. It’s worse when you have experienced the life and still think same thoughts.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be where I am. I’m not the richest person you know and neither am I the smartest. My parents work hard to send me somewhere and I work hard to make sure my bills are paid and I have a roof over my head. I still socialise, I still talk, I still communicate with people here regardless of who they are or what they believe. I open myself, I get to know, I begin to understand, I start to learn and I grow up and accept what I see, live and experience.
I’m lucky to have someone beside me who shares my fascination for all things unknown, that inspite of her religious upbringing, finds the heart and sense to see past whatever beliefs I have and stereotypes that she grew up with. She’s ambitious, responsible, smart, funny and above all, adventurous, quite unlike any Malaysian I have ever met.
The thing is, I would never think that everything that happened, that is and that will be for me, is because I put stock in some higher force and disregard everything else out there. No. For me at least, everything that is and will be comes because I choose to cast away the ideals and cultures that I grew up imitating and started to learn just how big the world is out here as a single individual.
Maybe at the end of this I can never return to Malaysia and be a Malaysian whatever that defines itself to be. But maybe at end of this, I can return home and be a person that has learnt to live with himself, with others and with the world. That at least sounds a little better if not for the last nagging question.
When this is over, where will home be for me?