Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Power of Sworn Denials

I had a narrow escape from a nasty accident while out cycling last Saturday morning. In fact, I dare say I might have even cheated death that morning. I supposed it's one of those perils of cycling on the highway. It was quite an experience, really; one which resulted in a sudden surge of adrenaline and chilling sensation down my spine.

Then later that morning, we found ourselves in a coffee shop for a drink. The fellowship was a lot of fun; and at the end of it, I paid for everybody. A couple of my friends teased me, jokingly asking me if it's my birthday. The truth was that it's my small way of paying forward. If there's God, He has been kind by protecting me on the highway. And I reckoned that it's my small way of saying "thank you" to Him by showing a little act of kindness to others in return.

Just about 2 weeks prior to that, I was running with some friends, and we got to talk about religions. I told them about the time when I went to church for a few months many years ago, and tried to blend in with the congregation. It was a strange experience—I was there to listen to the sermons, and I was hoping to find God. But I ended up feeling like a total idiot. When people started singing, I sang a little, but for the most part, I did not. When people stood up, I did not stand with them. Neither did I kneel down when it was time to do that. Nobody actually said anything unkind to me, but you should have seen their piercing stares—it's a kind of stare of disgust, one that made me feel so small!

Not many people can understand my position as far as God is concerned. You see, I believe in God; but not the one mentioned in religions. To me, God of the religions is a very conceited being. He yearns to be loved and worshiped by us all; He claims to give us free will, but actually not really. He knows absolutely everything. Yet He put the two idiots to the test in the Garden of Eden, knowing all the time that they'd fail miserably. He had to know what the outcome of that test would be, because He knew everything, you see. He claims to love us all, yet He is liable to lose his temper and go on a killing rampage on a grand scale!

My friend gave me quite a good lecture during that run. One of the things he said to me which remains stuck in my mind up to now, was that I should have a relationship with God. Well, as a matter of fact, I do have a relationship with God. But my God is not the God of the religions.

Most people would claim that they, too, have a relationship with their respective Gods. They dress according to the requirements of their religions; they pray in a specific way, or in a specific venue, and perhaps even in a specific direction too. On the surface they try very hard to behave every bit like what's required of their religions.

But the truth is that nobody is able to see the decays underneath the surface. Bigshots of the church have been known to have sexually abused young children. Women who are covered from head to toe getting pregnant out of wedlock; and they are quite capable of killing their own children to prevent others from knowing their dirty little secret. And when there is a need, they would readily swear on their holy book to deny their wrongdoing, knowing fully well that they're guilty as hell of the crime they're accused of.

This reminds me of a man I knew many years ago, who cheated on his wife. He said he'd admit to me that he fooled around with women. But nothing would make him admit such a thing to his wife; and he'd willingly swear on the holy book if he must!

No—I must beg to differ from Dr Mahathir's suggestion that "it is better for Muslim politicians to "swear properly" to fend off allegations instead of clogging up the courts with frivolous lawsuits." I don't care how proper is proper; it can never be good enough! I pray to God that nobody would heed such an idiotic solution to "unclog" the courts in Malaysia!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Problem, Solution & Not-So-Good Remedy

A recent seminar in Kota Kinabalu on Women's Health emphasised the pressing need to promote the use of contraception. The seminar was jointly organised by the Sabah Women's Advisory Council Health Committee and the State Health Department. It is reported that the National Population and Family Development Board would review the National Family Planning Policy, especially the suitability of providing contraceptives to sexually active young persons who are unmarried.

One of the speakers of the seminar, a friend of mine, Dr Helen Lasimbang, stressed on the importance of contraception for prevention of unwanted pregnancies which have caused a lot of social ills such as baby dumping. She went on to elaborate available options of contraceptives.

Yesterday (Sunday), in the opinions column of The Daily Express, a reader opined that "Doc should not encourage contraceptive use among young". Instead, she—I'm assuming a she—suggested that "What the doctor should have stressed, instead of contraceptives, was perhaps instilling into the girls the importance of self respect and loving themselves. They should be taught cultural and religious values that sex is forbidden before marriage."

There are many people in this world who simply refuse to believe that we, humans, are imperfect creatures in many ways. I hate to break it to them, but sometimes teaching cultural and religious values just won't cut it. We fall victims to temptations—the mind is willing, but the flesh is weak, you see.

Some of us can't resist alcohol. Others can't resist food and cigarettes. Others still can't resist facebook and greed for money; and yes, some of us can't resist sex. It's just the way we are; we have many, many weaknesses. That has always been the problem with mankind.

I think it is a romantic idea to expect young people who are quite often victims of raging hormones to refrain from indulging in sex, simply by teaching them cultural and religious values that sex is forbidden before marriage.

When people are addicted to food, no amount of education or warning of illnesses or even dreadful diseases such as diabetes and heart attacks would make them stop eating. Far from it. And even if one succeeds in scaring them off with all these bad consequences due to overeating, it would still be an uphill task to make them stop. Most of them would continue to overeat, until perhaps when they are diagnosed with clogged arteries and their lives are hanging merely by a thread. Then maybe—just maybe—they might stop, though I seriously doubt it. At least not for very long.

Sometimes, when the ideal solution can't help to solve the problem, we have no choice but to fall back on the not-so-good remedy. If, for example, no amount of advice can make me reduce the consumption of high-cholesterol food, thus resulting in elevated cholesterol level in my body, then perhaps the doctor owes the duty to at least fall back on whatever available drugs that can help in controlling or reducing the amount of cholesterol in my body. But by informing me of the availability of cholesterol-lowering drugs, that doesn't mean that the doctor is encouraging me to overeat.

Dr Helen Lasimbang is a gynaecologist, speaking in her capacity as a gynaecologist, and sharing her knowledge on methods of contraception. If we can't stop people from having sex (and I think for the most part we can't) in spite of the teaching of cultural and religious values, then we should at least protect them from unwanted pregnancies in the hope of solving the problem of baby dumping. It is not about encouraging them to have sex; rather, it's about falling back on the not-so-good remedy.

A Good Start For 2012

Most people spent their time ushering in the new year 2012 with friends and family member, drinking and eating like there's no tomorrow. Some stayed up well past midnight, into the wee hours of the morning. Yet others actually took the trouble swimming in the sea at the stroke of midnight, supposedly to wash away all the bad luck! I spent my new year a little differently.

On new year eve, I went cycling first thing in the morning with some friends. We clocked a decent 40km of short workout to the Sepangar Naval Base from Likas. It was supposed to have been a "slow and easy" ride, but of course when cycling with my friends, it's never really slow; and certainly not a very easy pace.

Later that morning, I went to BP Lab in Damai to check my hemoglobin level, as it was found to be slightly low a few months ago. I'm happy to say that the test revealed that my hemoglobin level had gone back to normal.

While I was at the lab, I decided that I might as well check my blood pressure too; I found that it's marginally high. That's kinda strange, because I've been working out almost on a daily basis. But of course there are many causes of high blood pressure. Well, I decided to text my running buddy, Dr Peter, to seek his opinion. He opined that something or somebody must have excited me.

The truth was that the cycling that morning might have had an impact on my blood pressure. But still, to start the year with a high blood pressure, albeit marginally, was something I wasn't happy about! I texted Peter again, suggesting that perhaps I should check my blood pressure again that night. But I said I had to do it before bedtime, because Mia might have something interesting on the agenda around bedtime?

Responding to my message, Peter noted thoughtfully, "Usually, not only [the] blood pressure will shoot up," he said; adding a free advice, "Try not to do the ultra-marathon version..."

Peter was concerned, of course, not only because of my blood pressure, but also because we had a long run planned for 4:45am the next morning.

At the ungodly hour of 4:48am the next day, which was new year day, I arrived at the Likas Sports Complex and found Peter, Jonas, Dennis, Robert and Teo. I was the last to arrive. We started out to Tanjung Aru, and along the way, a number of people greeted us with "Happy New Year!"

At the Wawasan roundabout, Dennis turned back, while the rest of us continued on. And then when we were about to reach Jalan Mat Salleh, we realised that Teo and Robert, too, were no longer behind us. Later, I found out from Teo that they made a detour and made their way back to Likas, making a total of 18.5km.

Jonas, Peter and I pushed on to Tanjung Aru. And at the roundabout, upon Jonas' suggestion, we made detours into secondary feeder roads, finally emerging at the beach area in Tanjung Aru. There, Jonas suggested that we run all the way to the Third Beach and take the seaside way back. But I was already tired, so I decided to turn back immediately, running solo all the way back for a 22km finish. Jonas and Peter did the sandy route along the beach and clocked about 25km.

The next day was still a public holiday, and I rewarded myself with a full rest day. In the afternoon, I was in my young nephew's birthday party, and finally ended up at the mahjong table at my dad's in the evening. There, I had another chance to check my blood pressure on a digital instrument. Well, it had gone down to normal again. So I'd consider that it's a good start for 2012.

Now if only the RM115 I spent on 4D numbers on Diriwan 88 would strike on new year day, that would have been perfect; though I must ask Peter if that would've raised my blood pressure even more?

Happy New Year to all my loyal readers. Wishing you all the best in 2012!