By Anthony Dylan

Surreal. That is just the one word to describe my feelings this year. It looks like this Christmas is going to be a muted celebration much like all the other festivities after Chinese New Year. Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Wesak and Deepavali came and went with strict requirements to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in view of Covid-19.

The strongest belief is that a vaccine would be found and Malaysia has gone to even blatantly announce that they would be procuring doses for next year. I would like to caution everyone that whilst we are all hoping and trying to believe this would be the cure all, do note that that the vaccines have not been truly tested on human beings. The sample sizes have not been forth coming. Do also note that SARs and MERs, both are also coronaviruses have no known available vaccines. The same can be of Dengue. There is no known vaccine for this used to guard against Dengue.

If there was ever a vaccine for Covid-19 to be released, the likelihood of this being expensive or costly when you become testing beings is real. I am not throwing cold water on hope, but we should be cautious. Do not just buy into Government chest thumping rhetoric. It is better to be sure. We should in the meantime, ensure our way of life is improved and hygiene become of utmost priority to us.

We are actually quite wasteful. We also have this bad habit of littering and throwing items out without care for segregation. We also have this distinct problem of trying to have larger food portions when ordering and never finishing them. This is like what someone once said, “….akin to stealing from the hungry every time you waste food”. I seriously wonder why some restaurants and eateries constantly offer larger portions just to make the dish worthy of that double digit pricing. What is wrong with having a smaller portion so the food becomes accessible to many without jeopardizing quality? They should just stop being selfish.

The current pandemic SOPs have also forced us to either cook or ask for a takeaway. However, if you are not responsible, you would still pay RM0.20 for that plastic bag which would likely be an environmental nightmare when disposed of indiscriminately. One should instead invest in good tiffin carriers or even use whatever containers you may have. Carry a cloth or canvass recyclable bag to do your shopping. This is the same when you see people disposing of their face masks everywhere.  Just look down when walking a pavement or after you park your vehicle. There is a high chance of seeing one on the ground. This is an action of concern in the success of isolating a pandemic outbreak. People have to learn to dispose them properly as their individual action affects the possible success in this war against the pandemic.

At this time of the year, it is quite common to see shopping centres decked with thematic decorations to celebrate the coming Christmas season. It is also the time when schools start their end year holidays. Some would have planned for their trip home or holiday at this time. You would look forward to head to all the large shopping centres to take pretty and memorable photographs. You would look forward to meet up with friends and enjoy time at the movies. You would look forward to buy that special present which meaning would be larger than the monetary value.

This year however, it is not the same. Decorations put up paled to the scale of before but to their credit, shopping centres do try. It is unreal. Words cannot describe how one could be feeling now. March 18th felt like a long time ago yet the sentiments seemed worse. Morale seemed to have hit rock bottom. If it has, then it is good as the only way now is to get back up.  This time it has to be inward thinking. It is time to reflect upon our own weakness to improve your strength.

Malaysia’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Our diversity creates a magnificent unity. But on the flip side, it can be the strongest undoing if some unscrupulous people use it to keep themselves in power. There should never be a grey but a clear black or white. A Good and an Evil. A Yin and a Yang. A North Pole and a South Pole.

It is likely to be a Christmas which tries hard to bring cheer to your hearts. It is not as difficult as you would think it would be. All you need is to believe that life must go on. You would need to adapt to the changes and still celebrate. Joy is found in the simplest of forms or acts. We need to take a minute to stop and take the coming year as an opportunity instead of lamenting on the lost possibilities of this year.

Let the spirit of joy balm the aches of today. Let us take out our Christmas tree and decorate it as usual. Let us invite others to celebrate with us with the little that we have. Let us be thankful that we are able to help others as with our own selves.

I would like to share with you what Pope Francis had said:

“I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food).”

“….with the hope that our sleepy consciences will be shaken, giving way to a “humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre.”

 “Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself”

 -Pope Francis-

Merry Christmas and God Bless Everyone.