Obviously I haven’t blogged in forever but I just need to let out some steam.
I just need to rant after reading all sorts of infuriating comments on the recent earthquake + nudist issue. I’ve seen name calling, degrading other people’s cultures and beliefs, blaming religion, illiteracy, political rants etc. Maybe I’ll be just another mosquito in the forest, maybe I’ll be a voice that’s heard, it doesn’t matter coz I just want to step on my soap box and chip my to cents in.
Ah… who wants to see naked people in public? No matter what country you are in, most countries tell you to keep your dangly bits and saggy (or overly perky) tits private. As we all know, in the west, it is accepted to be nude in public places THAT ARE DESIGNATED for that sole purpose i.e. nude beaches.
Asians are more conservative and nudity is something private, not to be shared for the whole world. Like many countries around the world, there are laws that forbids public nudity. Offences that involve nudity (or in any state of undress) in Malaysia isn’t something new. We’ve had seen a few people being charged with indecent exposure, committing obscene act in public space, exhibitionism etc. There have been cases like the couple taking wedding photos in their under garment, woman walking naked in the city, the bunch involved in a nudist event, the girl who refused to pay for her food therefore she stripped etc. And yes, they did get fined, punished, jailed or institutionalized accordingly.
So what makes these tourist special that they are safe from the law when the law says no public nudity? Not only that, they also peed there and made fun of the situation What infuriates many in is that they had committed those acts on a mountain deemed sacred to the indigenous people. Rituals and customary rites are often performed there and the mountain is revered as the home of the people’s ancestor.
How would you feel if someone came naked to you church, temple etc? Would you like it if someone peed on your ancestor’s final resting place? You’d probably say nah, it’s just nonsense. Well it IS someone else’s religion and believe like how you have your own religion and beliefs. Then again, this world is so short of tolerance on beliefs that aren’t parallel to theirs. Now THAT is what I call lack of understanding due to lack of exposure and education on other people’s religions and beliefs.
MALAYSIANS, FAITHS & PRACTICES
Now many people think that Malaysians are Muslims, which is untrue. While the Peninsular is home to a majority of Muslims, East Malaysia @ Sabah & Sarawak have more diverse community with more than 30 races, most of which are the indigenous tribes. However, a large majority of these people have converted to other mainstream religions including Islam & Christianity. There are also many who still practice pagan religions, which if you had paid attention in school, are roots to many mainstream religions now.
One thing that is unique to the Asian region is how faith, beliefs and customs are intertwined to make who we are. For example, I am a Christian Chinese but I’ve been brought up with the believe that forests and mountains are sacred for there are many things/creatures live there but they are unseen to us except for those with ‘the gift’. There are just somethings you don’t argue with.
Ask someone who frequents such places and they will tell you of the ‘protocols’- no shouting, no arguing, don’t misbehave, don’t simply pee anywhere you like, don’t destroy the flora & fauna, don’t pick plants etc. This is to make sure you don’t anger the spirits of the forest. Sometimes you’d see food offerings at the foot of a tree- those are to appease the spirits.
As such, what the nude tourists had done were seen as angering the spirits/gods thus causing the earthquake. Obviously we know the scientific causes of earthquake, Malaysia has a 93.1% literacy rate. But even though we don’t believe that the act of nudity caused the earthquake, we are still angered by their disrespectful behavior. We might not believe in their gods, but we respect the people’s beliefs and respect their sacred places. It’s like disrespecting a Buddhist shrine, Mecca or the Vatican. Something like that.
Laugh all you like but remember, these are the beliefs of others. Do you know how ridiculous our own religious practices seem to others that do not practice it? Precisely.
So the bottom line is when you’re on our land, respect our beliefs and practices. We will also do that on yours. We won’t lose anything to learn and understand the beliefs and practices of the people whose land we are visiting. Ignorance can be bliss but it makes us stupid. Like the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
Let us believe in what we believe and respect what others believe in. Life would be idyllic if only we all can do so.
So instead of spewing all these negativity why don’t we all just channel positivity, good thoughts and prayers for those affected by the quake, especially those that have lost their lost ones. May their souls rest in peace.
This rant is brought to you by my insomnia.
*steps off soap box*