SHAME is a very powerful human emotion. When experienced with integrity and in the right spirit, it then leads to a period of introspection, critical analysis of the reasons why one felt that shame in the first place, and then remedial measures to ensure that one does not experience that unpleasant emotion again! Being a surgeon, should a patient that I have operated upon die, the first emotion that hits me is shame! Not disappointment, not anger, not even a sense of resignation that the death occurred despite the team’s best efforts. I feel shame that I let my patient down. Shame that I let the family down. Shame that I destroyed the dreams and aspirations of his or her children. And shame that for the following couple of days at least, people would, innocently or otherwise, stop me along the hospital corridors and give me that knowing look as if to hint that I had done something unpardonable. Malaysia is a blessed country. Good location, an abundance of resources, a warm climate, freedom from large-scale natural disasters and a generous, intelligent, compassionate people. But will blessings alone take our country forward?Look around us. People who are alleged to have or who actually have committed serious offences still strut around like peacocks. No shame. People have no qualms flaunting their ill-gotten wealth while a vast majority of Malaysians, especially during this pandemic, are struggling to make ends meet! No shame. People twist and turn facts, figures, opinions and shape mentalities to continue sitting in the halls of power. No shame. And people fan the flames of doubt, suspicion, anger and resentment using tools that are actually designed to unite, to divide and conquer. No shame. We seem to walk our country’s roads oblivious to the fact that we should actually be resurfacing them for our children in a better Malaysia. And their children! It is time that we, ordinary citizens of Malaysia, the rakyat, took stock of our country’s journey: – Have we achieved the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that we set ourselves as a Nation?– Are we in a sound financial position?– Have we charted career paths and goals for the next generation of Malaysians?– Are we doing enough to protect, maintain and improve the physical, social, mental and emotional well-being of our people?– Is there a sound, sustainable succession plan in place to groom the next generation of young, brave, dynamic leaders? In my mind, the answer for all of the above questions is a resounding NO. Shame! Maybe the time is ripe for all Malaysians to explore and embrace this powerful human emotion called shame. Experienced holistically, it can only make us better people, a better nation. Sadly, a whole lot of us do not seem to even know what shame is! What a shame! – December 7, 2020.* Dr Venugopal Balchand reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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