The world was slowly going in a decline and now that has gone into hyperspeed. The sign of that decline is that humanity is now in distrust of one another, scared and defensive. People around the world are acting irrationally.
One of the first indications of this acceleration was in June of this year when the British people, in a referendum vote, chose for UK to leave the European Union. The vote was divided, almost down the middle, but just a little more pushed for Brexit.
Everyone was shocked, not just Europe, but the entire world. Here was a strong regional union, probably the strongest and most stable in the world, and it was crumbling when it really shouldn’t be.
The EU was doing most things right, uniting to improve the economy, subsidising to help the countries and the people who needed it, creating open borders to allow citizens to gain better opportunities. But I guess all good things do end.
The people who voted for Brexit were people who were afraid and felt threatened. They could not find a way to embrace the new order of the world and how it is improving society. They just wanted to maintain what they were familiar with.
They were afraid that their country would no longer be theirs. They were afraid that culture would be lost. They were afraid that people who were different from them would overrun their country and steal their jobs.
Unfortunately, all this fear represented their close-mindedness, short-sightedness, selfishness and bigotry. And not to sound elitist, it probably wasn’t a coincident that the demographic of these people showed a lack in formal education.
The country is almost at a clean middle divide. Those who understand and those who do not. And this is where it becomes a challenge for society. A gap clearly exists between the educated and the less educated.
This is a situation that is much worse than a society divided by race, religion or culture. And so, the Brits are well on their way backwards to the years of yore when they were exclusive, closed and no longer part of a socialising community.
Today, unfortunately, it is US turn to take a step backwards. Americans have spoken out and made it clear that they, like UK, are also feeling scared, insecure and threatened.
They have elected Donald Trump as their new president. Throughout his campaign, Trump played on that exact fear and insecurity of the American people in order to gain support and political advantage.
This is after the US had made history by taking a progressive step in voting for Barack Obama, their first African-American president, not once but twice. And just like that, after taking one step forward, today they take two steps back.
Fears, insecurities and a lack of understanding and knowledge towards people, cultures and beliefs that are different have dominated and overruled logic, rationale, common sense and decency.
They have chosen a candidate who is a liar, sly, racist, and sexist. Trump is a candidate that wants to keep immigrants out, is pushing for religious profiling, and wants to grab women by their genitalia.
Many are saying that his campaign of ‘making America great again’ is, in a way, a backlash or, as CNN’s political commentator Van Jones put it – after eight years of festering sentiments – a ‘whitelash’ against those who had chosen a black president.
We, too, are no different
Now we look at Malaysia. These events that have happened or are happening in Britain and the US, isn’t all that unfamiliar here in this country of ours. For decades, our political system has always been one that feeds on fear and insecurities.
The political parties pit one race against the other, stressing a certain racial or ethnic group will have their interests taken care off by the government. Divide and conquer is how we do it.
These race-based political parties will go back to the people, whom they have brainwashed to think that they represent them, to tell them that if they don’t protect their own interests, others will see that as a weakness and trample over them.
We have groups like the red-shirts which blatantly intimidate other races by holding demonstrations that are said to be peaceful, but then have displays of martial arts – the breaking of pieces of wood to show how strong they are.
For Malaysia, it may not be a case of taking one step forward and two steps backwards. For Malaysia, it may just seem like there were never any step forward and all we have taken are backwards steps.
Pessimism is a dangerous thing. If it festers and stays for long, then the world is doom. After reflecting on what has gone wrong, we need to move on. This is the time when discourse cannot be ignored and the struggle to improve society must triumph.
What a world it is.
ZAN AZLEE is a writer, documentary filmmaker, journalist and academic. He just found out that he shares a birthday with Donald Trump. Oh man! Visit FATBIDIN.COM to view his work.
Two months ago, I spoke to University of Virginia political scientist Kyle Kondik about the powers Trump would have if he became president: