Jun 2, 2009


The 1Malaysia policy is being trumpeted all over the media these days. What is 1Malaysia? How can we have 1Malaysia policy when selfishness reigns in society, when the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing by the day, when certain ethnic groups are neglected, when we are not ONE about religion, about language, about education, about sports, about justice, about democratic freedoms etc. How can be ONE when policies that divide still exist? How can we feel ONE when we do not feel ONE. What is there to feel ONE about? Is this all an illusion? Or is it just a play of words to gain political mileage? We can say ONE body when we talk about our bodies because every part seeks the happiness or pleasures of the rest and avoid unpleasantness or pain for the rest. If our tooth aches, we make sure we do something about it to stop the pain. If we are hungry, we eat, if our heart is clogged, we make sure we go and get an angioplasty or a by pass to give us peace of mind. We act in harmony in the interest of ALL parts so it makes sense to talk about ONE body. But not ONE Malaysia, no yet so in my mind.
So do we have a philosophy to make 1Malaysia a reality. Utilitarianism perhaps? We all want to be happy don't we? We all want to avoid suffering and pain don't we? So if we have ONE common goal to ENSURE that all be happy, then in a sense we can become ONE.
The English philosopher, John Stuart Mill wrote that Utility or the greatest happiness principle means that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong if they tend to produce unhappiness. And he meant not just bringing about the greatest happiness to the individual only but the greatest amount of happiness to ALL, ALTOGETHER. This was Mill's standard of morality. Utility includes not solely the pursuit of happiness but the prevention or mitigation of unhappiness or PAIN in society.
How is this to be attained? According to Mills, it can be attained by the general cultivation of nobleness of character of all individuals in society. Thus in England we have the noble English gentleman. For when we are noble we will act in a manner that will bring happiness to all around us- not only human beings but all beings. We will be ashamed to be selfish for we know the consequences of our selfishness to society. Looking around us today, we see how man's greed and selfishness is destroying our country and the planet day by day. To bring about the greatest happiness to all would surely include certain amount of sacrifices, selflessness or nobleness on everyone's part to bring about the right balance of goodness and happiness in society
Mills further held that next to selfishness, the principal cause which makes life unsatisfactory is want of mental cultivation. A cultivated mind according to Mills was one which the fountains of knowledge have been opened and which has been taught to exercise its faculties to think rightly, greatly to bring happiness to all. Thus we require an education system or a policy that brings about the greatest mental cultivation to our citizens which would mean an education or policy based on the goodness and happiness of self sacrifice, renunciation, 'a give and take' policy for the good of ALL concerned for in the long run, this will bring only happiness to ALL. It would mean a policy rooted in the best traditions of democracy, justice and fair play. It would mean a policy training minds to be one for the happiness of all and all for the happiness of one so that the greatest happiness can be distributed to all.
The great Nazarene did after all teach:- "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consists in the abundance of his possessions". There has to be a balance between materialism and spiritualism (or moralism).
According to Mills, wretched education and wretched social arrangements are the only real hindrance to Utilitarianism's goal of bringing happiness to all. Lack of mental cultivation and nobleness in members of society lead to gross impudence, ill regulated desires and bad or imperfect social institutions - the enemies of Utilitarianism. And i believe that as long as there is no happiness to all, as long as inequality, selfishness, greed and social pains reign in society, there can be no 1Malaysia. Perhaps if our Prime Minister is really serious in bringing about 1Malaysia, he should consider Mill's Utilitarianism as a guideline.

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