The consumer culture rears its ugly head, forcing a look at the most despicable and yet most necessary of evils that exists.
So...suffocated. Intoxicated, driven, even, by the energy of the crowd, the throng of the masses. And yet...what are they doing here?
What are all these people doing here?
I lean over the rail, looking at the throng of masses making their way to...well, wherever it is that they're going to.
And I wonder what the world has come to.
The shopping mall has become the quintessential spot of gathering for many people. In Malaysia, at least, a major part of that reason is because of the availability of cinemas...which is coupled with the lack of stand alone megaplexes. Nowadays, multiplexes are only built in multistorey malls.
It's an ingenious trick, really, one that really pulls in the crowd on Wednesdays (cheap movie day) and the weekends (no work days). A part of that crowd includes me, but a big part of me...wants to be anywhere but here.
"How do you get about in KL if you don't have a car?” asked the interviewee of a video that I edited recently. “And where do you go if you do have one? Just...shopping malls. One suffocating mall to another.”
The thing is, the entire existence of some people has become so ingrained with that of the shopping mall. The mall has given rise (and rise) to the needs of people, needs that didn't exist in the first place. How many clothes shop do we need? How many shoes shops does one has to traverse to find a good pair of shoes? For that matter, how many malls do we need? If you live in the Damansara area, you have three malls within spitting distance alone (though you have to spit a fair amount).
It is an illness that threatens to engulf us, that will one day, one way or another, will prompt us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “When does it stop? When does this all end? When is it enough? Where is the white line that I should have watched out for long ago?”
That line was gone long ago.
And as I look at the people moving their way through, I can't help but feel that the chances of us building new lines, new boundaries within which to maintain our humanity, and stand alone from shopping malls, diminish. In more recent times, even offices and service apartments have been included as part of the shopping mall package. Your life, therefore, is all in one little space, cramped with the lives of many other people.
The race is on, for people to open their minds. To be able to think wider, to consider other possibilities, and to come up with new and innovative solutions. Hell, even our Prime Minister is banging on about it. The development of human capital, he calls it.
To me, this is not the correct race with the right objective. The point, I feel, should not be for people to open up their mind, but for people to replace the track that it is on. That is to say, to not achieve the state of the one-track mind.
What is the one-track mind?
For me, the one-track mind is the direction in which the thinking is directed. Having an open mind, the ability to consider many other points of view is, while desirable, is pointless if one comes to the same conclusion on the same issues every single time.
In other words, while the person is able to think of the pros and cons, he or she will inevitably move in the same direction and come to the same conclusion that a person who wouldn't be able to do so do.
Does that make sense?
I like Chris Rock. He's one of my favourite comedians, partly because he's funny, but mainly because his humour is grounded in the truth. “Everybody is really, really keen on being somebody with a political identity,” he said. “I'm a Republican, man, I'm a Republican, so I'm against abortion,” he mocks, “or, I'm a Democrat, man, I'm a Democrat, so I'm pro abortion. But you know what? I think that whoever makes up their mind before they come across an issue is a fucking fool!”
You can't put it any better than that.
Of course, it is still possible to be open minded and come to the same conclusion reasonably. I mean, that is what reasoning is all about, right? To make decisions that are based on sound truths, rather than half-baked lies. But for the most part, in my opinion, the opinions of others are still made on a narrow, fast speed track.
And that is the case in Malaysia still. Boy and girl go into a secluded area? They must be making out or having sex. It is completely impossible for them to merely talk.
Boy calls up girl, he must be having the crush on her. Not likely for him to just call up and say hello as a friend.
That guy is Malay, therefore he must be a Muslim. Can't separate in the mind of the fact that race and religion are two completely different characteristics altogether.
Someone says Assalamualaikum, it must be only from one Muslim to another. People forget that the phrase has NOTHING to do with Islam, merely the expression of greetings in Arabic that says, Peace be upon you.
Try that on a Chinese here, and see how he or she reacts.
And yet it goes on, the call for the development of the first world mind in a third world country. But in my opinion, based on my observations thus far, that won't be achieved unless people strive not only to have an open mind, but also to put that mind on the shifting track.
"I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white and it says, 'You may have fooled some of the people some of the time but those days are over, giftless. I'm not your agent and I'm not your mommy, I'm a white piece of paper, you wanna dance with me?' and I really, really don't. I'll go peaceable-like."