For those unaware of the significance of today's celebrations, it is a day to remind ourselves of the spirit of sacrifice, but more importantly, the spirit of faith.
When I was a kid, I loved reading the fantastical stories in the bible. They were powerful, enigmatic stories and characters, and I particularly loved the ones that gave me particular insight into the human psyche. (Yes, though I often proclaim liberal tendencies in religion, the romance and humanity of the human spirit always, always fascinated and enthralled me, still does).
So now I realise that this very special day has its roots in the story of Abraham from the bible - the very same story of the sacrifice Ibrahim was required by Allah to make of his son, as a test of his faith. The devil tried to persuade him to disobey Allah, after all, this was his son. In the end, as Ibrahim was about to commit the act that would prove his fealty, Allah stepped in and exchange the son for a lamb.
Now, at my very tender young age, I knew that ours was not a time when people would see this as a reality. I mean, these are stories from the old days, right?
But I knew that there was a way I could translate this story into a meaning that was significant to me and others. This meaning was that, if you commit to something, then you commit all the way. The story furnishes the action with the rewards - the gift of his son's life. To me this was highly significant, meaningful and powerful. But as I grew on in my years, I came across people who could only see the story for itself - they took it either very literally or not at all.
Some of them might have said that God was cruel to put Abraham through such a trial. Others took it to mean that if you love God, you'd kill your own brethren for God. I took these as very simplistic views. It would take a very complex, highly moral, pious man to take his own son's life on the command of a deity. What must have gone through his head, assuming this is a real man? I know of some people who balk at having to be patient, or share their territory. What must it take to be able to go through this kind of pain?
I doubt there are many of us who would share the same fortitude as Ibrahim / Abraham did. Our natural instinct is to run, or fight. It takes so much self-control to stay on an even keel, in any situation.
Which brings me to the terrible things that have been going on in our country, and the terrible actions and behaviours of people who have been entrusted with our loyalty, our security, our peace of mind.
Most recently, the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide which saw 14 bungalows carried own the street as if they were paper boats on a stream. Above the disaster sits a stretch of abandoned terrace houses on the precarious edge. Apparently, they were abandoned by the developer TWENTY years ago, and reports say the drainage maintenance was not being handled.
Of course, THEY'RE ABANDONED. In some countries, the people would be asking, Why? Why were the developers allowed to leave all that concrete tonnage there, literally, like a brick sitting on the top of a disintegrating, water-logged cake? Okay, let's ignore the fact that nothing was done for 20 years - after all, the Highland towers court ruling fiasco took more than a decade - what is anyone going to do about it now? Will we ever even find out who this developer is? Forget the developer, this is what we have our councils, police and government for - to be the watchdogs on our behalf. Read Elizabeth Wong's take on the matter here. Seems like the state has been left to the wolves.
I say, someone is playing god, and has made lots of promises to those they require to prove their faith. Except, the sacrificial lamb doesn't appear at the last minute: it's you there, about to be given up for the "greater good".
What sickens me the most is seeing so many officials on camera, mugging and posing, without a shred of compassion or sympathy on their faces as they try to look important. What they are actually achieving is hard to guess.
To all the survivors and the families who survived their lost ones, our thoughts are with you, and our condolences.