We need to take a step back from the brink, my friend.
I worry that we are in a situation where everyone’s just feeding their own egos while the world continues to burn around us.
Medical professionals are busy making sarcastic remarks about how dumb people are to refuse vaccines. Vaccine skeptics are fuming at how dumb people are to believe in the ‘plan-demic’. Meanwhile, everyone is angry at some random politician or celebrity for not following the latest version of our SOP.
How did it come to this?
To a certain extent, social media is responsible for the rapid escalation of conflict in society. Social media is optimised for engagement, not truth. What this means is if the algorithm thinks you are even remotely interested in vaccine conspiracy theories, it tries to give you similar (but often more extreme) content in the hope that you will keep watching/tweeting/scrolling.
But we cannot simply lay all the blame on social media. We need to look at ourselves and think: how much are we responsible for this crisis? Sure, it can feel extremely rewarding to bash each other on social media, but at the end of the day, no one wins (see my previous post Adab Perbahasan). It almost reminds me of monkeys flinging poo at each other. Lots of action, terrible noise, everyone’s having a good time…but boy, what a stink!
I look with horror and sadness at what has become of my beloved home country Malaysia. If anything, this pandemic has really underlined the stark divisions between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from home, and your job is secure, your kids are well-fed and happy, then be thankful for the blessing. Bersyukurlah…
But don’t forget that there are many other people who rely on their meagre daily earnings in order to scrape a living. They are often invisible to the authorities because they don’t have much power or influence. They don’t have many followers on Instagram, they don’t appear on national TV. And yet, they have families too, kids who are forced to go to bed hungry because their parents could not go back to work. These people deserve just as much kindness and compassion as anyone else.
If you’re looking for an avenue to help, one place where I can personally guarantee it will be useful is to donate to the IMAM Response & Relief Team (IMARET). Full disclosure, IMARET is led by one of my closest friends Dr Ahmad Munawwar Helmi, but that is precisely why I am 100% confident in their ability to make use of your donations. I’ve seen them do it time and time again with little regard for their own comfort and wellbeing.
So let’s take a step back from the brink. Stop arguing with each other all the time. Open your eyes and look for opportunities to help the poor, the downtrodden, the less fortunate.
In short: be kind.