American amusement

Image source: Business insider
Image source: Business insider

So I was cracking my head yet again recently on what to write for my fortnightly column, Web Wanders (as seen on The Star Online) and somehow or rather, was led to consider a few possibilities involving Americans.

Well, okay, I guess you could say a lot of what my team writes for the tech beat has its roots in America since they’re quite the innovators in the tech space and all, but it was a little different for me this time around.

What I mean here is that for some reason, the potential topics I had considered for my column made me ponder quite a bit about Americans in general: their social idealogies and preferences, their way of life, and how they’re so different from those of us who reside in what is usually regarded as the East side of the globe.

So, I guess you could say it became somewhat a personal contemplation of mine over the course of the week that was.

(Well, about the column, in the end I decided to go for the less American option, which was to write about Facebook’s A Look Back video feature. Yet it isn’t entirely un-American since Facebook IS after all, an American based company. But anyway, if you’re interested, you can read the outcome here.)

Let me explain a little bit more so you get where I’m coming from.

The two alternative topics that I had considered writing about were actually these:

  1. An article by writer Nicole Mullen on Thought Catalog that belittles Chinese New Year
  2. The outrage of some Americans over Coca Cola’s Super Bowl ad

I guess the thing that I keep wondering is, Are all Americans this racist?

It’s sad to observe that even in a developed country, such negative sentiments still continue to fester. What use is it then, for Malaysia to aspire to become a developed nation then?

It looks as if things will not be any better if we were to progress in such a trajectory. That’s really disappointing. I would have expected better of a mature society.

Besides that, the blatant ignorance and/or outrage over others practising their own distinct cultures… is that really that big a deal? What’s wrong with conversing in your native language? It doesn’t necessarily mean you would be bad at communicating in English.

In that respect, I think Malaysia isn’t doing so badly. Even though Bahasa Malaysia (BM) is the national language, each and every one of us still uses our mother tongues very liberally.

And as a member of the press, I am proud to say also that for us in the Malaysian media, we  tend to get our media releases in several languages. This shows a healthy respect for the cultures of our multi-racial society we have.

Of course, I realise that it’s not true that EVERY American is as narrow minded as the ones I’ve come across in the two instances I mentioned above. But either way, it’s shocking to see so many still clinging to these sort of perspectives.

As for the issue of being upset about immigrants, I guess it boils down to the notion of what a person assumes is his/her rights.

To a certain extent, we Malaysians are guilty of harbouring such attitudes as well. We too often despise the presence of foreign labour who struggle to make a living in our land because we think of them as infringing on our property, our benefits, etc. 

But really, as one youth maturely pointed out in a lengthy essay which won some international competition out there, we are all immigrants in one wa or another.

My own family history bears testament to this fact. Just three generations ago, my ancestors chose to make Malaysia their home instead of continuing to dwell in China. And why so? Most likely, it would have been due to the search for a better future for themselves and their future generations.

That is why most people migrate. And I guess, knowing that this is part of my own heritage, I don’t think I can bring myself to look down on migrants as harshly as some others might. There are struggles that people such as these go through that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.

And when, in fact, they have, just like my ancestors, settled in a new land and become citizens years later as they rightfully should be, does that make them/my family any less entitled just because they had lived in the country for less years than someone else has?

For me, my loyalties are with my birthplace, Malaysia. I do not consider China my home in any sense of the word. I do not associate myself as being one of them at all. I can’t even speak a decent amount of any Chinese dialect for that matter. In contrast, I can speak BM much better.

I’m sure it is the same for every person born in America, regardless of whether they are from Asian, Latin American, African or any other descent. They would surely recognise America as their home and everybody else should also treat it as being such too.

After all, nothing we own ever truly belongs to us. All we have comes from God. Hence, I should not deny someone else enjoying God’s blessings since I myself benefit from it, not because of my merit, but because of His grace.

So, cast aside your prejudices, Americans. It is God that watches us and preserves us all. No amount of English speaking or culture conforming could change that.

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