I wrote the following on 26th December 2004 intending it to be a 'Christmas message'. However, that day the tsunami happened and overwhelmed us all.
I'm posting it now because it serves as an antidote to the nihilism of Noordin Top and his suicidal acolytes.
Happy Independence Day, Indonesia
Our Kid often asks me if I’m a Muslim or Christian. I’m not sure if this is a question a newly-eight year old should be asking. I question his schooling.
If a house guest dons prayer garb, kneels on the prayer mat and faces Mecca, Our Kid puts on his peci (pillbox hat) and performs the ritual genuflections.
This weekend he surprised me by singing along, almost word perfectly, with the carol singers in the Le Meridien Hotel. While washing all their socks at night, all seated round the tub … was not, to my mind unfortunately, one of them. And, thankfully, neither was Away In A Manger.
But I digress. My reply to his question is that I am me. I believe that all religions have the same core values, which promote the communality of interests rather than emphasizing differences. It is the recognition and sharing of those differences which enables caring societies to evolve. If ‘me’ must have a label, then I’m a libertarian humanist.
Every individual matters.
Which is why
A young, well-educated Chinese girl desperately flees a repressive Singapore to find happiness in the free West. The moment that she finally seems to have the world at her feet, however, she is struck down by an incurable disease that occurs in less than one in a million people.
The disease was a chordoma in the base of the skull, an extremely rare tumour for which there is no cure. So Grace Chow wrote a book, A Pain In The Neck ~ an ironic, humorous, and moving autobiography (which) takes the reader to the grungy world of Singapore politics, the complicated dreams of an ordinary girl who tries to break out of mediocrity, the experiences of settling into a different culture, and ultimately to the stark reality of impending death.
And in the last ten days of her life, Grace kept a blog and in facing death, she also chose humanity.
… holding on can be something beautiful. Even when we know that it will be all in vain at the end, even though it will bring us the most difficult times ahead, it is the only thing that we as humans can try to do in the face of sorrow, loss, bewilderment or incomprehension. We are going to try holding on anyway, because there are so many things that are worth the while -- feelings and memories that remind us just what warmth, bliss, pride, comfort, or pure happiness really is about. Holding on will make it harder for us, but why should life be easy anyway?