Tomorrow is today’s dream

By Aisha Rashid

Image courtesy of Mohamed_hassan of Pixabay

“Yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream”…Khalil Gibran. Every great dream begins with a dreamer. However, one must have the passion, patience and strength to reach for the stars to change the world.

It is only a few days before 2023 comes to an end as the new year beckons. What an eventful year it has been – for Malaysia and the world. Our nation welcomed the new year with a new administration in Putrajaya, putting an end to political democratic instability that occurred from the beginning of 2020 till the final quarter of 2022 when the 16th general elections were held at the end of November 2022.

For Malaysia, 2023 marked a year of re-building – from the vestiges of the Covid-19 pandemic to the remodelling of the national socio-economic construct through a recast policy framework aptly branded MADANI. It is the Bahasa Melayu version for the acronym of SCRIPT – core values encompassing sustainability, care and compassion, respect, innovation, prosperity and trust.

An ambitious undertaking, given the rot that had rocked this nation at its foundation – slowly but surely since these past six decades, MADANI is aimed at improving the rakyat’s well-being through change and reform.

For Malaysia to go forward, change is no longer a choice but an imperative. The nation has suffered enough from being battered economically, morally and socially due to corruption, gross administrative inefficiencies, racial polarisation and myopic policies. However, any changes or reforms should not be the government’s effort alone as all have to pitch in and take responsibility for the betterment of now and our future generation.

Taking a leaf from Leo Tolstoy, a Russian literature icon, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” In view of this astute observation and as we embark on the next phase of our journey of national re-building, Malaysians from all walks of life must be willing to participate in the reformation efforts and change for the better.

Socrates, a philosopher from ancient Greece pronounced, ”The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

Let us ponder the analogy of a garden. A beautiful garden results from one’s choice of plants and the effort put in to maintain it. If one plants seeds of flowers and tends to those seeds then fragrance and sweetness will be one’s rewards. However, if one neglects the garden and allows thorns and weeds to thrive then grief, injury and loss would be one’s gain.

In the chapter Ar Ra’d of the holy Quran, Chapter 13: Verse 11, “God will not change the condition of a people unless there is a change of what is in themselves.”

As such, change can begin even with small acts that may seem insignificant but are necessary to achieve greater reform. Change can make a start from the home, from schools, with positive results spilling into the community, the environment and consequently the nation.

Our children should be taught good manners, respect for elders and respect for public property. It was Dr. Malek Bennabi, an Algerian philosopher, who prescribed that the re-building of a civilisation rests on four pillars – ethics, aesthetics (beautiful buildings; clean toilets; gardens and parks; roads), skills or competencies of the people and efficiency in running the country.

For change to succeed we have to learn to let go of negative behaviour as it benefits no one. According to Prof. David Snowden, an expert in complexity and sense-making, the unwillingness to let go is why change is not happening in society.

As a multi-ethnic nation that aims to thrive, we must take the resolve to remove the shackles of prejudice and learn to live together harmoniously. I remember a time more than six decades ago when Malaysians of all creeds co-existed congenially to build a nascent economy. We had done it before and I am confident we can do it again.

I look to 2024 with much optimism and hope for better times.

Aisha Rashid is an experienced public relations strategist and author