The Same Conversations

by Rie

I am easily bored. After rehashing certain sentences x amount of times in similar ways, a little part of my brain grows restless. It’s time to get up and leave. So, I do.

I get tired of platitudes. I will never use the phrase “x amount of times” again. Maybe.

But they are easy. Stories become easier to tell the more you tell them. The facial expressions and hand gestures that accompany the delivery become more elaborate. A different audience demands a provocation of a greater response. Something of that sort.

We’re having the same conversations. And it’s wearying. We are resigned. We march and, then, march home to hang up our yellow shirts. We type angry comments on MalaysiaKini and downvote stupid articles on The Star. We cleverly change our DNS settings so we can read The Sarawak Report. We read so we cannot be branded apathetic but everything we read just reminds us of the ropes around our wrists. We are tied. We are waiting for some sort of higher power to save us.

We pad our cells and wait for the mavericks to say the clever things we want to say.

Okay, so maybe you don’t. But I do. (Actually, I don’t even type angry comments because it takes too much work.)

This feels like a new sort of apathy. A willful ignorance.

I tried, yesterday, to find blogs of young Malaysians. I scoured Google, i.e., I tried typing inflammatory things in both English and Malay (and failed massively). I turned to Dayre. I tried following link after link from more popular bloggers. I looked up the Malaysian subreddit.

And it dawned upon me that I don’t know what I’m really looking for. What are we expecting, anyway? One glance at this and I saw that no one else seemed to know either. (Some requests make sense. Some require overreaching government intervention. Some are misinformed. Some are so simple it’s a little sad.)

Then, I realise I don’t know much about Malaysia. If anyone were to say to me: here, you fix it, I’d be screwed.

I thought of the self-deprecating remarks I, and a bunch of other Malaysians, make about our education system. They’re not wrong; I think we are a spoon-fed bunch. But to go a step further, to fix this would mean to foster critical thinking. How would we do that? How would we help students cope with another change in the education system? What does it actually mean to be above average by world standards without recognising that the set of challenges we have are different?

I’m not asking these questions rhetorically because I know these questions have answers. And it’s the answering of these questions that is interesting.

Can’t we go a little bit past our frustration, then? Become a little idealistic and a little less ignorant? Recognise the problems and pretend we can fix them?

Probably not. Being frustrated is so much easier.

(I hope I’m being sarcastic.)