Monday, July 11, 2011

Walk This Mile in My Shoes

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good."

Psalm 14:1
In case you're wondering, I made it across the South China Sea safely and is now squatting in the backroom of my friends' place in the City of Cats - at least till I can find a foothold of my own. Yin Yee, along with a rather enervated post-call Inn Shan, came to pick me up from the airport. Then, for the rest of the day, the two of them plus Nickson showed me around town and helped me with my shopping. Yew Kong lent me the car he just bought from Nickson for me to get my affairs in order - which consists almost exclusively of filling up oodles and oodles of forms in various locations. That's what adulthood is all about you know - filling up forms. 

I'm going to be blogging guerrilla-style mostly from now on i.e. writing quick and dirty pieces. I'll get to my point immediately: it's not easy being an atheist in a religious nation. Every time I'm made to recite the National Principles, I'm reminded that a "true" Malaysian has to possess a belief in God. Every time I read the Bible or the Qur'an, I'm reminded of how most people's belief system discriminates against someone such as myself, calling us foolish, wicked, and a huge assortment of other derogatory adjectives from the get-go. We aren't judged by our deeds, but by our inability or unwillingness to believe in something without hard evidence. The next time you encounter an atheist who says nasty things about religion, remember that it's the holy books of the faithful that started the mudslinging first. 

The course I attended preceding my induction into civil service reminded me yet again recently of my status as a persona non grata in my own country. It was during a talk about leadership that this came up.
A Visionary Leader According to Malaysia
1. Obedience to God
According to the government officer giving the lecture, an atheist can never be a visionary leader. In his mind, an atheist literally do not have the first thing it takes to lead. This is the sort of discrimination against a minority group which we happily allow to happen in Malaysia and in other parts of the world where people wear their faith in an invisible cosmic superbeing on their sleeves like it's going out of fashion. Imagine for a second that the officer's PowerPoint presentation had insisted instead that someone of African descent, or a woman, or a dwarf cannot be a visionary leader. There would be an automatic uproarious backlash against him, but because most people are conditioned by their FUCKED UP RELIGION to think so poorly of atheists, no one saw anything wrong with his blatant bigotry. 

If you ever wondered why atheists are so pissed-off most of the time, this is why. This is also why conscientious atheists tend to support women's and gay rights - issues which I speak about often in this website. I know what it's like to be freely discriminated against in most cultures in the world. I know what it feels like to be marginalised by the teachings of religion.
Group 3 Port Dickson Induction Camp 5-8 July 2011
My group at the Induction Course.

There is famous statement by a Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller, which I like. It reads,
"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me."
It said nothing about atheists, women or homosexuals, but the it's the spirit of the message that counts. Would you speak out for atheists? If there's one thing which can change our minds about religious people, this has to be it.

A non-visionary non-leader, 
k0k s3n w4i


c3rs3i said...

At least it said Patuh kepada Tuhan and not Patuh kepada Allah swt - That itself shows a religious tolerance I would not freely assume these days.

Say a blind eye is turned on the first criterion, how would you fare with the rest in becoming a visionary leader?

Rewarp said...

You can't intentionally miss the point of the post like that.

That's like saying to a rape victim "at least you weren't violated with a glass rod."

Anonymous said...

To this atheist "Tuhan" and Allah" are indistinguishable - both denote a supernatural being unjustified and unsupported by evidence. The first criterion is blatantly discriminatory against non believers.

yuhhui said...

No wonder they never have much of progress.. whatever 'God' tells them to do.. they do it without thinking...Just plain obedience without questioning, even when the society is changing so much.
P/s : i like rewarp's reply. =)
P/s2 : they really teach a lot of junk in that camp eh?

c3rs3i said...

Sure I can, but I haven't. Looks like you (plural) missed my point though. One with a particularly distasteful false analogy at that.

I don't have slide pictures from the course I didn't go to to set me straight on the do's and don'ts of blog commenting but I'm pretty sure your (plural) commenting on my comment, without a single nod to the blog post itself, is further off the mark than my conceived transgression (and discourteous to KSW and his efforts, besides).
Unless you're the blog police of course. In which case, my humblest apologies sirs/madams.

k0k s3n w4i said...

c3rs3i, this is Rewarp. Rewarp, c3rs3i.

c3rs3i: i don't think i will make a good leader - i have never ever imagined myself as one. i'm pretty good at belajar, berfikir, bersosial, mencari maklumat and membuat keputusan. the rest of the criteria are nonexistent in my skill set. i am of the opinion that leaders are born, not made.

Rewarp: for what it's worth, i don't think she missed anything. if anything, i thought she actually made an indirect point about how intolerant religious people can be.

Anonymous: welcome to malaysia, where no discrimination against atheists can be blatant enough to be noticed by the faithful.

yuhhui: i find the paradox interesting. how is a person visionary when he or she can't see beyond a bunch of ancient, stagnant superstitions? if anything, belief in unfounded magical claims had probably held the human species back. p.s. i'm sure yi pin can tell you exactly how useless the entire camp was.

Rewarp said...

I stand corrected. It was too strong an analogy (pun not intended). Just a scene from the anime Rainbow making a rather potent impression a few hours before I posted.

It's like a religious person thinking they aren't offending anyone when they invoke prayers before meetings and say everyone else should also pray accordingly.

~YM~ said...

Perhaps, it is well understood that the most successful leaders are of course, the non-believers. Well, Jesus wasn't a believer. He was a blasphemist, at his time. So was Prophet Muhammad.

The key is to create more superstition, to make people fear, and to control them with that. The best governance without the need to reason with anyone.

There you have it. You control civilized people with reasons, and the rogues with religion. Since humans are always in btwn the spectrum, its always nice to have both to be a good leader. But that doesn't mean you ought to believe in it. :P