11 June 2008

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday June 4, 2008
Looking beyond the white blouse

There are many different ways of thinking about the same thing, and if we insist that our way is best, we need to defend it with sound arguments.

I would nominate for “Small Mind of the Year” the announcement by a female student that our schoolgirls’ uniforms are too transparent, and therefore would lead to them being raped, have unwanted babies and all sorts of evil things.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention that these white blouses would also make them corrupt and power-hungry.

It’s nice that a student association is taking an interest in issues. But one would have thought it would complain about the general state of education in this country, rather than school uniforms.

In France, students are taking to the streets to protest against the poor quality of the education in the state schools.

It would be far more impressive if our students complained about the same. After all, they must wonder why they cannot get jobs after studying. Or do they blame it on the alleged state of undress of other people as well?

Perhaps complaining about the education system would reveal that this is why they have become so small-minded.

Instead of breeding big brains with the capacity to think issues out clearly and then hold their ground with solid arguments, we get grey matter that has been squeezed into tiny boxes by an education system that lauds small minds and thinks brains that think expansively are dangerous.

The easiest and cheapest counter-attack is however to use the “freedom of speech” argument, where hole-ridden proposals are recast as opinion, never mind how silly. But these are the same people who would never allow anyone with contrary opinions the same freedom to speak.

It’s an argument that took the Education Ministry rather too long to put down.

And nobody seems to have noticed that neither Minister nor Special Adviser on Women said anything either.

When there are statements like these, nobody should be so polite as to not simply say that it’s silly. Why should we be afraid of offending people who patently have not thought things through?

But we allow it for only one reason: they mentioned religion. Instantly this puts such dubious arguments out of bounds. I have heard people claim that drinking hot water is haram.

If someone proposes a ban on anyone drinking hot water because it is not allowed by a certain religion, do we simply let it pass?

Once upon a time, someone said that it was impossible to land on the moon. If someone still says that today, do we still treat it with reverence?

We see small-mindedness everywhere, with simplistic arguments and solutions to everything. Nobody seems to want to do the hard work of bolstering arguments with hard facts and evidence.

We seem to be proud of not using our brains, as if it’s an organ that is meant just for show. Never mind that in some people, once they open their mouth, the size of the brain becomes evident.

The assumption is often made that the smallness of mind is in direct proportion to the amount of education the person has. But we often see so-called educated people displaying the same narrowness of thinking.

Perhaps it is a factor on how much exposure someone has. I think we should take someone like those who say things like “clothes cause rape” and put them in forums where they have to defend their arguments.

If their arguments can actually stand up to the test, then they’re worth talking about. But how much should I bet that they won’t take up the offer?

I once witnessed the total shock someone with a dubious argument received when he was invited to defend his policies at an international forum overseas. He was so confident he was correct; it did not occur to him that there would be counter-arguments.

Left unable to defend himself, he started to blame others and the organisers for “setting him up”. This is what happens when one lives in an environment where small-mindedness is encouraged, where debate and discussion is discouraged.

If we truly want to develop, we need to teach our children that there is a big world out there; and to be part of that world, we need to learn how to think differently.

We need to realise that there are many different ways of thinking about the same thing, and if we insist that our way is best, we need to defend it with sound arguments, not retreat into the realm of opinion.

Even opinions must have a sound basis, not plucked from the air.