How do you discern?

— May Chee Chook Ying
The Malaysian Insider
April 24, 2012

APRIL 24 — What do you pray for when you pray, as when you speak to God? I was educated in a convent. So, from young I was “exposed” to the Catholic faith. So, I learnt how to pray, at least I think I know how to pray. Apart from the set prayers, I learnt how to talk to God.

My first and only gift I’ve asked from God since my primary years has been this — a conscience. A heavy conscience can be so inconvenient but that was what I asked for and that was what I got. I asked for it, so to speak!

So, what’s a conscience? The Oxford dictionary defines a conscience as a moral sense of right and wrong. I guess it means that when you have a conscience, simply put, you do know when you are doing right or wrong. When it’s right, you feel good and liberated. When it’s wrong, you feel lousy and imprisoned by guilt, fear, doubts, etc.

Please bear with me when I speak of conscience from the viewpoint of a Catholic. The size of the world depends on your conscience. Conscience can make the world bigger or smaller. It was the Lord Himself who said this: Two men can look at the “lily in the field” and the one sees more than the other. The first sees the stem and the petals of the flower. The second sees this and something beyond: the Providence of the Father who clothes it more magnificently than “Solomon in all his regalia”.

For the second man, his conscience is something more than a “still, small voice” at the back of his head. His world is bigger and he is too big a person to be crippled by the chilling fear of punishment when he does wrong or a feeling of guilt when he dares to be unconventional. Such a man can see the whole stage and not just part of the scenery. His conscience is what we, Catholics, call “the Vision of the Whole”.

In today’s “specialist” world, one is cautioned not to be a Jack of all trades and master of none. Contemporary man is, therefore, forced to be small-minded. And this, because we are men of our time, can constitute a real danger to our quality of life. When we begin to look at the world through a microscope, we soon become prey to childish fears and anxieties. We become too scared to step out of line, to stand up and be counted, because we imagine ourselves to be alone.

But we are not alone. We are a far cry from being alone! As long as it is the right thing to do, we are never alone. I know it’s always easier to chicken out and it’s really hard to do the right thing and take the road less travelled. But I believe there are many people out there with a conscience. People who want to do the right thing. People who know right from wrong. People who can discern.

So, how do you discern? Discernment is said to be the ability to distinguish the contradictory desires prompted by the spirit and the flesh. It is the capacity in the changing circumstances of daily life to distinguish between the two paths or modes of living, and to choose the path that leads to life. So, if you can discern, it’s a good thing. Because you would be free to live the life you can; the life you should, with dignity.

I’m not writing this for those who can already discern. I’m appealing to those who are ignoring their conscience; perhaps those who still want to stay captive under their “tempurungs”. Or perhaps for those who have so far lived their life according to a disordered vanity and self-centred desire to achieve only for himself and his own good. Such achievements are only short-lived delights. How much can you wear? How much can you eat? How many bling-blings do you need to adorn yourself? How comfortable should your home be? How many places do you want to visit? To climb every mountain? To cross every ocean? To have it all and yet, nothing really, at all?

How do you sleep at night, knowing that either you are part of the injustice being perpetrated or ignoring the fact that there’s gross injustice happening before your eyes? Burying your head in the sand is not a solution!

There are good people and there are bad people everywhere. I believe there are good people, too, in the ruling party, in the government and in the civil service. And among you who have been shielding your eyes from the glare of injustice. You know what’s happening. Do you know what’s going to happen to your children, soon enough? Do you know what kind of a country you will leave behind for your children? What do you say when you pray? How do you make an account of what you have done or for what you have failed to do? Can you look into your children’s eyes and say, “My conscience is clear?”

I know I’m being lofty. Only because I’m hopeful that among you people out there, there’s still an iota of decency left in you. That you still have a conscience. That you still can discern. Please do the right thing and push for change. Malaysia needs a change. Malaysia needs a chance. A chance to be true to herself. To king, country and God.

Last but not least, “Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear.” Happiness is yours for the taking. Push for change. See you at Dataran, let’s “Jom, Duduk Bantah”.

  1. #1 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 - 11:31 pm

    Wonderful piece of article.Very encouraging and tell us to reflect on ourselves.Why not change if we are not better in anyway from before,now or here after???? No ar?..then hampalang si liau liau lor!

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 1:03 am

    I had a strange dream the other night. It went something like this:

    There were 200,000 people dressed in yellow sitting down almost quietly, peacefully demonstrating for change and reforms. Not a single policeman was to be seen.

    Along came Ah Jib Gor without any bodyguards on one of his walkabouts trailed by a host of reporters and cameramen. He waves to the crowd and greets them ‘Salaam 1Malaysia. Nice to see you all here’.

    He then turns around and speaks to the media, CNN, Al Jazeera, RTM, BBC the whole list of them, ‘live’:

    ‘As you can see, I am a transformer. I have transformed my country, freed it from all restrictive laws, and as you can see behind me the people are free to protest and demonstrate freely and peacefully. Who says the BN government is evil? I lead an honest, transparent, caring and efficient government that takes care of all the needs of the people. We are the best democracy in the world. We are well on the way to achieving a high income country where the people of all races and religions live in peace and harmony.

    I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have just come from the Palace and am happy to announce that His Majesty has consented to the dissolution of Parliament and polls will be held in due course.

    Thank you very much for your kind attendance here today.

    Selamat 1Malaysia.’

    I woke up with a shudder.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 3:54 am

    On 28.4.12, a minister will go 2 Dataran with his actress gal fren, a wife jeating boss of a local racist party will also go there with his preti maids in a row – all joining d crowd ber sia-sia, makan angin; later, ful of sai too joins them with some microscopic tadpole-like thingy in his precious storage raktum n lots of sh!!t (cos konstipated 4 a few days, but of cos)

  4. #4 by monsterball on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 7:52 am

    BERSIH 3 will be an event to prick the conscience of the voters.
    It will be CLEAN Vs DIRT
    If our government is clean with clear sincere conscience towards all Malaysians….it will not apply so many obstacles to make the rally a failure.
    The BERSIH 3 rally must go on…to fight evils.
    People Power is in control now.

  5. #5 by monsterball on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 8:09 am

    Young workers are not afraid to participate in the rally.
    HongKong & Shanghai Bank CEO has made in clear…they have no objections for after work…what everyone want to do…it is their own business.
    That is why HKSB is the largest Bank in the world.
    I know many young Malaysians who work for the Govt. are going to participate.
    They will see thousands of old folks like me coming out to support and participate too.
    I know many old folks like me ……..looking forward to join the rally.
    3 more days to go.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 8:19 am

    To discern is to be able to distinguish one from the other, in this case between right and wrong, which is of course a prerequisite to one having a “conscience” which is manifested by feeling good about doing the right and good, and feeling guilt doing the wrong and bad….So if one is able to discern and has a conscience he will not do bad things to others. It is a quantum leap in argument to say that having this discernment and conscience, one should therefore (besides exercising one’s right to vote with ‘discernment’) extend it to also sitting in at Bersih’s demonstration in Dataran to register one’s protest against bad electoral practices of a bad government – because, according to the writer, that’s a discerning and moral and conscionable thing to do and because that’s what our children expect us to do to ensure a better future for them!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 8:20 am

    Please – keep the argument simple. That one goes to Dataran if he feels sufficiently outraged by a government that he perceives/believes rigs the electoral system to justify its self serving continuance of power to the detriment of country and people including one self and descendants; that in a conflict between the powerful few and the powerless many of one’s countrymen under the yoke of the powerful few, the cause of the latter – synonymous with Bersih’s – cannot be advanced by one’s being neutral and on the side line, and the way to show one’s siding that side which is right for the good of the people/country &political process, is to leave the arm chair and join the peaceful ‘sit-in’ in Dataran on Saturday.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 8:21 am

    There is no need to make a big moral/ethical argument out of this, bringing in children’s future etc to make a case for joining the sit-in.

    Children ? – well they fight their own battles on their own turf in the future. For now it depends on the children (adolescents), their attitudes depending on age, exposure, education. Some parents will go to Dataran more to protect their children who will, in spite of parent’s misgivings, be joining the event (hyped up by social media) anyway, whether or not there is going to be an eye-ball to eye ball confrontation changing a non violent demonstration to one of violence! There are also children that will tell their parents to earn sufficient money to migrate and to provide them an overseas education so that they have the opportunity to migrate than fight a lost cause. There are of course children who think Bersih’s right cause to fight to stay. It all depends on the children and it’s not necessary to use them as an argument here for what one’s to do or not to do.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 8:44 am

    The word “conscience” is not found in Umno’s vocabulary. If they have conscience, they would not rob the rakyat.

  10. #10 by sotong on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 9:10 am

    What conscience? They don’t care and believe they have not done anything wrong or unfair.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 9:40 am

    It is pure wayang kulit for the govt to say that Bersih 3.0 sit-in (which has no “traction”) will be allowed (implying legal) but the venue should in some stadium in Titiwangsa Cheras or Bukit Jalil, so that the one the to be held in Dataran will be “illegal”. Wasn’t this the same condition imposed on Bersih 2.0, if so what’s the difference Bersih 3.0 this time around? In Dataran (instead of the police) DBKL’s uniformed personnel raided, confiscated donation boxes and apprehended 4 student protesters/activists and sent them to Dang Wangi district police headquarters based on DBKL’s lodging of police report that the students were obstructing civil servants from their duties. So what’s difference between a police apprehending and taking them to Dang Wangi from that of DBKL officers doing the arrests as police’s proxies???

  12. #12 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 - 1:42 pm

    Pray 5 times a day, still no conscience ? WOW !

You must be logged in to post a comment.