Gerald Lopez, who was most helpful to me when I first began to explore the mysteries of the Internet back in early 1998 - and who subsequently got me started as a compulsive disseminator of information - migrated to New Zealand in 1999 with his beautiful wife Mei Lin Wong. For a while Gerald struggled to establish himself as a photographer and eventually became vice-president of the professional photographers’ association, AIPA. In 2001 their son Joshua arrived. The photo above dates back to Joshua's third week on Planet Earth. About five years ago Gerald Lopez became an Ayurvedic healer and yoga instructor and subsequently opened his own Science of Life therapy center. We continue to keep in touch and only today I discovered a pithy comment Gerald had left on a blogpost dated 12 October 2008 - 51 Ideas for a Better Malaysia. I feel what Gerald has to say - from the perspective of a migrant who really loved his homeland but could no longer tolerate our culturally and spiritually retarded leadership - ought to be shared with more people, so I've taken the liberty of turning it into a blogpost in its own right. Hope you don't mind, Gerald! :-)
GERALD'S COMMENT (December 20, 2008 5:25:00 AM MYT):
Nice one Antares, in your usual crystal-clear style!
As a voluntary exile from the land fictitiously called Malaysia (I still chuckle when the ad voice-overs go malay-see-yer), I have a few points to add.
Becoming better possibly means making cultural and spiritual progress towards a happy and truly harmonious society.
Cultural progress occurs when there is a deep sense of where we come from - our roots - and a cultivated spirit of creativity.
Mahathir and his gang made sure that the people were firmly disconnected from their roots by denying our history.
Shame was poured on the hindu and shamanistic culture that fed the Malay psyche. I remember in my childhood going to weekly puppet shows in the villages, firmly based on the Ramayana legends. Now this is banned by the religious folks who think they can decide for other adults.
Shame was poured on the British colonial past, as street names were rabidly changed to impossibly long ones of obscure Malay personalities.
The Disneyland culture that we now see, bears little relation to our cultural roots.
Creativity is one of the least cultivated qualities in the Malaysian education system. This comes from the fear of being different, of being wrong. Asking questions is tantamount to challenging "authority."
This lack of confidence in our creativity, has led to a culture of imitation - imitation music, imitation art, imitation fashion. I remember the number of guitarists who could do perfect renditions of "Hotel California" solos - but where is our soul music?
This is turn leads to a society of consumers - not creators. And the 21st century economy is about creation - of ideas, of technology, of paradigm shifts. Are you in a position to be part of this?
Spiritual progress is a necessary part of sustainable evolution (i.e. becoming "better"). Paradoxically, material progress grounded in materialism is like building castles of sand - and this is where Malaysia has been heading over the last >40 years, under the "leadership" of materialistic goons.
Spiritual progress means ongoing and increasing awareness of the more subtle aspects of our existence. It is not about the motions of praying so many times a day.
As our consciousness becomes more subtle, we realise how interconnected we really are. We realise that causing division and discrimination is the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot. All these religious folks who call for racial division in order to "protect" the purity of their kind, are spiritual fakes and hypocrites.
For society to be sustainable and become better, it has to be founded on honesty and truth. Your "leaders" and "elders" have truly let the people down in this regard. Where they could have cultivated a culture of trust and fairness, they have led the way in cultivating distrust, fear and criminality.
Thus, you stand now as you did 50 years ago - cultural and spiritual babies, wondering how to become "better".
Whenever I read snippets of news, I still shake my head in wonder. Good luck to you.
Gerald's calling card:
Science of Life
LLB, Dip.Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurveda & Yoga consultation
Ayurvedic massage & therapies
Retreats & workshops
President - The New Zealand Ayurvedic Association
Chairman - Natural Health Council (NZ) Inc