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“To be young and naïve”

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Being naive means that we’re not jaded and disillusioned, that we still have the guts to say “We want to make a difference!” writes Kim Khaira.

Photograph: John Fam
Photograph: John Fam

I’ve stepped into the “real world” as they call it.

And it’s not pretty. But it only reinforces the theories, stories and ideologies I’ve gone through as a Political Science and English Literature student.

I now know the difference between (1) democracy as a principle or concept, and (2) democracy as a process. I strongly support the latter and believe that there is always the struggle and room for improvement, and that the means are just as important, if not more important, as the ends or goal.

The world can be a very dog-eat-dog world (or am I encouraging speciesism by using this phrase?). Here is the blatant truth: I’m young, naive, and enthusiastic. And perhaps, to the outsider, my “problem” is that I aim to be young, naive, and enthusiastic as long as I possibly can. I aim to be wrong, make mistakes and learn from it. The older I become, the more mistakes I aim to make.

I may not always process my actions and the consequences of my actions well, but I try – and I know my peers try, too. I don’t want to change the world the way (neo)colonialists want(ed) to change the world; I want to change myself, and partake in politics in the sense of challenging the world that insists that dogs eat dogs, that that’s the way it has been, must be, and will always be.

Basing our fundamental beliefs on Hobbes’s life being “nasty, brutish and short” is a way to swerve the (mostly young and) hopeful into a dark and lonely corner, where feeling trapped and fighting for survival is the norm.

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I don’t support ageists, but I understand the need to address the realities of life to the younger generation, and when I mean “younger” I mean children, too. Part of that reality is that we’re led into believing that our ideas and who or what we associate or identify ourselves with are not good enough; that we’re idealistic and should grow up.

And the sad thing is, we do grow up and grow out of our dreams, which include the world that we envisioned ourselves living in. If not addressed, this insecurity will pervade throughout adulthood, and this may contribute to the younger generation losing our sense of boldness, uniqueness and creativity as years go by.

A friend said that being naive means that we’re not jaded and disillusioned, that we still have the principle and guts to say (even if frankly and presumptuously at times), “Hey! That’s not right!” and “We want to make a difference!”

And that’s exactly the point I’m trying to state here.

The youth are naive and hopeful. And although unfortunate for the domineering, the youth should be rightly so.

Kim Khaira is an activist based in Penang

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