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Human beings: Healing the world – or are we a ‘virus’?

Each of us must make a choice and be a positive force for change

Masks littered on the streets of UniGarden, Samarahan – VANESSA GILLIAN NAEN

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The title of this article sounds pretty philosophical, doesn’t it? Yet how many would take the time to ponder over it.

It has been over a year and the news is still full of the Covid pandemic. Same old, same old. Every day seems hopeless though many have been vaccinated. Some countries are now in despair. Who is to blame?

Now that the world is fighting against Covid, the critical concern of the day – climate change – has been swept under the rug.

What else can be added to the list of challenges we face today? Answer: ignorance and stupidity!

Recently, I (Vanessa) was cycling around my neighbourhood and noticed that the streets were littered with face masks thrown indiscriminately (see photo above). Quick question: Will masks be the new plastic problem now?

The upsetting sight does not stop there. I was out grocery shopping one day when I saw a lady throwing crumpled receipts onto the floor. I stood and stared blankly from afar, watching how she nonchalantly ignored her actions.

Were there no bins provided? I spun to my left and noticed a silver cylindrical bin. “Why?” I thought to myself. Such situations make me furious.

Another episode got my blood boiling – observing a man throwing rubbish out of his car and then walking out as if he had done nothing wrong! Seriously?

Why is civic consciousness in such short supply? Why such a ‘tidak apa’ (apathetic) attitude? On what level of ignorance are we at?

If we cannot take minor issues seriously, how are we supposed to focus on the bigger issues such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming, all of which degrade the ecosystem.  

What else could get worse? Oh yes, social media!

The use of social media today is booming, and even many seven-year-olds are already adept at it. Social media seems to be the only valid platform for people to freely and comfortably voice out their opinions. On the positive side, some use social media for a good cause: to share knowledge and spread awareness of current issues. However, other use social media as a platform to lash out at others, ie cyberbullying.

The recent brouhaha involving 17-year-old Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam is a case in point. In a Tiktok video that went viral, Ain Husniza criticised a rape joke made by a male teacher in class. Her intention was simple – to voice out what is right and raise awareness of a ‘rape culture’ in schools.

However, the reaction from netizens did not turn out well for her. Cyberbullies spammed her comments section, leaving unpleasant remarks, and she even received a rape threat from a male classmate. Sickening!

The prevalence of fake news is another major drawback of social media as well. Society is constantly fed with fake news. On what basis were such items written? To scare the people or merely as jokes?

There you go, more fuel to the burning fire! The worries and anxieties developed during these tough times are enough to distress most people. Is social media slowly turning into a platform where lashing out and spreading fake news are acceptable?

What have we become? Day by day, the world is becoming a scarier place to live in. Who do we blame? US! It is always much simpler to be ignorant and blame someone else for the disease we have created, isn’t it?

While others choose to remain silent, some have turned words into action, standing up for what is right and creating a better environment for the future.

Standing up for change

Each of us must make a choice and be a positive force for change.

Until then, stay safe. Together, let’s make this world a better place.

#kitajagakita #choosepeace

Vanessa Gillian Naen graduated from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, majoring in politics and government studies, in 2019 and currently teaches in an international school in Kuching. She aspires to educate society through stories and to write on events to raise awareness among the people of Sarawak

Efy Evita Chalilina is a full-time postgraduate student at Universiti Sains Malaysia and currently works at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations. She is passionate about sustainable development and youth empowerment

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