To love our country, we must first learn to love and care for our fellow citizens
IT is almost a daily routine. The calico cat, together with an orange tabby, would wander around my office in Putrajaya. They would purr and meow loudly when they see familiar faces, and occasionally, brush their bodies against my legs to express affection.
This display of friendliness is the result of years of knowing that there are always kind-hearted humans around to provide a scrumptious grub or put out a bowl of clean water for them, and occasionally their friends as well.
We Malaysians — at least most of us as I like to believe — have always exhibited compassion for animals, as well as extending help to underprivileged segments of society.
More so when it comes to festive seasons, when corporations do their share of charity work for orphans, the elderly and the poor.
But that is when the media cameras are clicking away and the companies are driven by corporate tax incentives.
When there is no incentive to make ourselves look good, we will give in to our selfish nature.
Just observe how many people will hold the lift door as you try to catch up with your shopping cart, or how often car drivers will express gratitude after being allowed to go first.
The recent spate of vehicles caught driving against traffic further highlights the burgeoning concern over our selfish behaviour.
The case of the 19-year-old part-time model, who caused a fatal accident by driving against traffic on the North-South Expressway in Penang, is somewhat reflective of our apathy and lack of concern for the safety of others. Her action caused the death of one motorist and damaged five other vehicles.
Another infamous woe of Malaysian road users is the seemingly acceptable practice of double parking, sometimes even triple parking.
To curb illegal parking in Putrajaya, effective April 1, the local authority will clamp or tow away illegally parked vehicles on 45 roads in nine precincts.
It was reported that between January and March 12 this year, the authorities had issued 18,622 summonses and towed away 93 vehicles.
Throughout my life working in Putrajaya and going around its government buildings and commercial offices, I observed that parking spaces are aplenty.
It is just that these drivers are not keen to walk and choose to remain oblivious to the difficulties caused by their inconsiderate actions.
Even as some drivers leave their calling cards on the windshield, they are simply assuming that everyone has a mobile phone to call them to move their cars.
Recently, just as a ill-mannered motorcyclist almost failed to beat the traffic light, the popular tune
by Tim McGraw, which reminds listeners to “always stay humble and kind”, to “hold the door”, “say please” and “thank you”, oddly enough resonated throughout my car cabin.
I found myself paying closer attention to the lyrics of the likeable song, which also reminded me not to steal, cheat and lie, as well as to stay humble once I achieved success, never giving up on helping others.
Sadly, songs such as this are too far and few in between amid the current crop of hollow music.
It always baffles me when I ponder how progressively impolite we become as we get older.
In almost every occasion, I hear mothers and fathers reminding their kids to say “please” and “thank you” to strangers they meet, be it the salesgirl in the retail shop, the cleaner in the building or the security guards at their residential areas.
Yet, when they grow up, their courtesy and politeness mysteriously disappear.
Which is why it was heartening for me to read the comments of top-scoring students in last year’s Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination.
Many of these talented teens responded with humility when asked about their achievements.
The values of being humble and kind, however, seem to be missing among Netizens who trolled Natasha Qisty Mohd Ridzuan, a straight 9A+ student of Kolej Tunku Kurshiah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, just because she has beauty and the brains.
It was appalling to see how mean and jealous the online commentators were. If this is the kind of attitude that most Malaysians have, we are in deep trouble.
When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Ekspresi Negaraku programme last Saturday, it was indeed a timely call for us to safeguard our nation’s progress.
However, in my view, building the spirit of patriotism and fanning our love for the country is much more than just proudly singing the national anthem and pledging our loyalty to the motherland.
It must be about genuinely wanting to enrich our way of thinking and developing our civic consciousness. To love our country, we must first learn to love and care for our fellow citizens.
Perhaps, one way, we can start this journey is by listening to Tim McGraw's song, and truly embrace the meaning of its lyrics.
An infamous woe of Malaysian road users is the seemingly acceptable practice of double parking, sometimes even triple parking.
Natasha Qisty Mohd Ridzuan with her parents. She was trolled by Netizens after scoring 9A+ in the SPM examination.