Coincidentally on my last return trip from the US, I just missed the American July4th Independence day celebration as I was up in the air. I am in the US again about to return home after seeing that Su our daughter is settled down in the BYU on campus housing to continue her studies in the fall semester. Again I will be up in the air arriving only on 1st September which is a day too late after our Malaysian Independence day. So I'll make my contribution here before I take off!
Yes we became independent from the British and chose to rule ourselves on 31 Aug 1957. So how have we done? Well a picture paints a thousand words so lets make our own conclusions from the pics I'm posting below of life in Malaysia.
I just have one thought and that is we're all born as Dependents who strive to become Independent but the highest form of living I believe is to be Inter-Dependent.
Not long ago a Malaysian construction company YTL won a major international tender in the UK for a power plant construction project amdist several other major international companies from more developed countries. The CEO Francis Yeo was therefore invited to speak to the London School of Economics. In his speech he shared his observation of the different cultures of the world with words to this effect :
"In America, they prize freedom and this is protected by the law and so to Americans, the law always comes first while logic comes second with relationships last.
In Europe, the ancient civilization is rich with knowledge and logic to the Europeans comes first while the law second and relationships last.
However in Asia, the people seem to prize relationships first, logic second and the law third!"
No wonder the world seems to have so much disagreement and it's all because of differing cultures! So what is this culture thing especially the M & M culture of our family? Well it's simply the behavior that we will gravitate towards because we were brought up being used to a particular environment which we call culture. So our family members who only left the country for further studies around the age of 17 would indelibly carry a part of Malaysian culture with them. Tolerance and patience with others different from us would be a strong feature. Of course there will be other outstanding traits like the way we drive or how we love to eat even in odd hours of the night and many other traits that one can point out. Those would form our perculiarity and identity through a sheer force of habit or what we are comfortable with.
Now when I joined the Church nicknamed as 'The Mormons' in the year I turned 21 as a student in Australia, I knew life for the future was going to be quite different. So part of that difference is the production of M & M kids, all six of them! As a young idealist and a mature one today, I must make the important comment that yes culture can influence us without us knowing it. However, it is our very own choice or choices that we make which determine what culture we will have. For me choosing to live in Malaysia while many of my contemporaries accepted lucrative positions or 'better lives' in more developed countries was a major decision. Why if I did choose to live in Singapore when I married the Singapore Girl, we would have produced S & M kids and that doesn't sound cool at all does it compared to M & M?
So what aspect of the Mormon culture rubbed off on us and our kids and will do so for a long long time? Apart from our religious beliefs, I think its just the way we have come to understand who we are. That we are children of God and everyone else is our brother or sister! By our choices, we strive to find a testimony or develop faith in a true and living God. As we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of God or things which we regard as greater than our own physical appetites, there is a transformation in us to become perhaps individuals who have bigger dreams. Hopefully, our faith and testimony allow us to face challenges or failures better because the culture should help us value things that may appear as 'failures' on earth but are of real value and happiness to us in the long term. Yes, the culture of true Mormons who live in this world is certainly not of the culture of this world where the name of the game seems to be to get more and more, even oppressing others if needs be. The laborer is worthy of his hire and we should always work hard and smart to earn our reward and allow others the same opportunity.
Mormon beliefs and culture of the family and God that was once thought to be extreme in the past is surprisingly found to make more sense today and is being accepted by more people around the world, from New York to Mongolia and yes even in Malaysia. It has withstood the test of time and the fruits of those who believed and sowed the seed is now being reaped by a multitude of generations around the world. Our recent meeting in Kuala Lumpur at the Islamic Studies forum where a Mormon expert in the translation of Islamic text shared his work to highlight its inherent beauty is representative of our culture of understanding and appreciation of differences in others. (Photos posted below.) Yes we are certainly not 'Extreme' but very much becoming 'Mainstream' today as you can even walk to a commercial bookstore such as Borders in KL to purchase Mormon books and scriptures.
So boys and girls, for better or for worse, you are the M & M kids and I'm proud of you in a humbling way. You've taught me much as I've tried to teach you what I know about life. We never stop learning from each other so be SMART as our leaders have taught us. (Click here to see how to be smart!)
This is the book available at Borders
With the lawyer from Utah whom I happened to have a copy of his book entitled the "The Sacred Duty", Richard Wilkins.
At the 2005 ISTAC Forum (Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization invited by Richard Wilkins.
A nice dinner after in a beautiful setting
Post Dated Development :
Dec 2013 : See how the M Culture has prevailed over the years in our family in a December blog post of a year in the future.
Apr 2014 : See how the M Culture has risen to catch the world's attention in a book by 2 Yale law professors entitled, "The Triple Package".
June 2016 : See how the M Culture continues into the 4th year after the passing of the Mom of the family in the family reunion in the heart of the Mormon land of Utah in this post.
Here I am at the airport lounge in Seoul, Korea with a 13 hours layover and nothing much to do...feeling bored all alone....until I did some catch up reading of our family blogs at the free internet kiosks!!! Now I'm inspired! Watch out! hehehe It's time for me to reflect about our family, our country and the world, WoW! How quickly I find something to do isn't it?
Yup our minds are incredible. You just need to trigger it with a thought and away it goes into an auto mode and here goes mine.....
At this point in our life, we have one Chinglish daughter in Beijing and another who just landed in Salt Lake City who might turn out to be a 'Utard'(Utah Mormon)! With 4 boys still 'hatching' at home in Kuala Lumpur loaded with tonnes of homework in 3 languages and a Singaporean mom who declared recently she has lived more of her life in Malaysia than Singapore, I like to ask you if you want some M & M kids that we have produced?
Yup, M & M kids coz they're Malaysians and Mormons, what a combination isn't it? A US 'Utard' friend and associate of mine flew in recently to Kuala Lumpur to conduct a workshop and we met in a busy intersection in KL. It was his first visit to Malaysia and one of his first comments was how he loved the excitement of the place and the high energy level of the people.
In retrospect I told him that having lived all my life in Malaysia, I am intrigue myself how a unique culture has evolved from the diversity of the people living peacefully in this land. In many ways I said it was like America which gave freedom to the people by law or constitution. Here the people enjoy freedom by sheer respect and love of one another. It made the races blend though they may be so diversed in their food,language, religion or way of dressing.
In America people lose their culture by becoming an American in that giant melting pot. Here they continue to live, worship and dress the way they choose all so differently but equally acceptable. In that busy intersection, we could see Africans, Caucasians, Arabs and a host of Asians walking freely, seemingly happily and most important, peacefully. This is the land of Malaysia!
More about the infusion of Mormon culture into our home and its effects later... the other M part of the equation.