I am from Malaysia, and it was a beautiful country. It is known as the Caribbean of Asia, with the Portuguese coming in the 15th century, the Dutch in the 16th, the British in the 18th, and the Japanese during WW2. We also had the Arab traders who brought Islam in the 11th century, the Chinese came in the 8th century, and the Indians in the 10th century. As you can see, it was a real melting pot where there were so many cultures, languages, religions, and especially the foods that had eventually blended with each other to create its own unique cuisine that is found nowhere else. And I am biased to say Malaysian food is even better than it’s parent origin.
And all this synergy was possible because of Malaysia’s unique location. Malaysia is about the size of Ohio, its mainland in the shape of a peninsula that separates the Pacific from the Indian ocean. It was a suitable stopping place for merchants who back then relied on the trade winds to travel from East to West or vice versa. These merchants had to stop and warehouse their goods while waiting for the winds to change direction on their return trip. And because of its unique but convenient location, Malaysia prospered not only in trade but also in its plurality of ways people related to each other. So, as you can see, my country has a deep history of tolerance and appreciation for diversity, knowing the legacy of bounty and human richness that came from it.Just last week*, FOUR (4) Churches were firebombed. And this all started when the Church in Malaysia got a favorable court ruling that the word ‘Allah’, a word banned by the government against non-Muslim usage for the fear of Muslims defecting to Christianity, was not an exclusive word to any religion. The court went on to point out the unlikeliness of the word causing such defection any more than a photo of a car can drive you somewhere else physically.
I am one of the earlier generations of Diaspora from my country. And as a new immigrant, I come across others and ask them how they like it here in this country. And from every person I have asked, there seems to be one common theme that emerges from their answers: this country is great in bettering their financial opportunity, but they all feel worse off from a family and friends kinship point of view. For the first time in their lives, they are experiencing a strange and foreign sense of human disconnection or isolation. And I often hear them lament how they often feel they can warmly connect with strangers in their native country much more than they can here in their adopted country. Additionally, they also usually comment that relationships are often forsaken in the name of financial well-being, a trap they too often fall into. But this then further fuels the disconnection they speak of, with perhaps they becoming part of the problem as their only way to cope with it.
Disconnection breeds disconnection.
I simply bring up my biography to point to the common blueprint of dysfunction. Whether it’s with the firebombing of churches in Malaysia or the absence of the warm human connection replaced by materialism, these stories are testaments to how our civilization has lost its way, no matter which flag flies the pole.
Even though I believe the pain in biographies can often squeeze out the ability to see a future vision, my vision I would like to share here ironically arises out of my biography. My vision is based on the old wisdom from Malaysia’s past but also one of rich plurality. In it, I see a projector that is projecting one beam of light outward. And the further it goes out, the more the red and blue separates from each other, eventually separating as two separate beams of red and blue. And at the end of each beam, the red light reflects off a red screen, intensifying the red further; and the blue light reflects off a blue screen, intensifying the blue further. And at the bottom of the screens, a crowd of people stares transfixed to these screens, but they also can further see that the red is redder because of the blue and the blue bluer because of the red. And this faceless crowd of obsession to the screens both co-existed and co-mingled peacefully with each other, often interchanging places to appreciate each other’s screen, often sharing this contrast with each other. And all this was done without respect to which color persuasion they are from.
One day—out of an egoic sickness that is behind jealousy, behind imaginary threats coming from paranoia, and behind self-induced but unjustified insecurities—a group started to believe the red was better than the blue and burnt down the blue screen. The people of blue persuasion are now without a screen to look at. And because the blue screen people had lived their entire lives watching their screen, they started feeling scared, demoralized, but worst off, invisible. Once a blue screen now is an abyss of no reflection, causing the blue people to feel their sense of self cast to a black hole. And the resulting intolerable emptiness made the blue people feel that they are left with no choice but to join the red screen audience to watch the only screen left. The blue people turn to the red screen to seek respite from their abyss. The blue people soon learned to forget what the blue screen looked like.
But there is hope in this bleak story. Because in the second part of this vision, I see one of the disenfranchised turnaround and started walking back to the projector. And this person finally stops at a place where this person is seeing neither red nor the blue that was once thought to be long lost, but rather the purple that had not split. And in my vision, I can clearly see that this person’s face is now bathed in this newfound purple.
And for me, this vision is pointing to this place of inner knowing that although we may have forgotten what blue looked like because of the red tyranny, this purple zone in all of us has never left us nor can ever leave us. We have simply forgotten it’s still there because we have believed we are our screens, our looking outwards from ourselves in search of ourselves. And when we get scared—enjoining us to the very egoic sickness that caused the tyranny in the first place—we start clinging even more desperately to screens without regard to the purple within us. But it is so much easier to act on our fears than to simply turn away from the screen and walk back to where the place of purple is at.
My vision points to this hope we can return to this place where the purple is at, the color of wholeness, in spite of this unwhole world of screens.
And all it takes is for one of us to turn around and walk back to that purple place still in us, enjoining us to the Purple Revolution, one person at a time.
For the purple in me sees the purple in you, a seeing that comes from the deeper meaning of the old wisdom greeting ‘Namaste’.
I see the purple in you, Namaste
* This piece was written in 2011 a few months after the 2010 court ruling