Sunday, October 31

Of Attitudes & Altitudes

This is a story told not to discriminate, alienate or propagate a certain ethnic group or way of life. I’m saying things the way it is. It’s my honest depiction of what I have observed with my own eyes. Please do not take offence.

Often have I wondered why the local people found it hard to break out of the chain of poverty that plagues a large majority of them. Apprenticeships & job opportunities are easily available wherever they are albeit lower wages, longer hours & hard work, it could still lead to something some day. I’ve always wondered why business owners would shun the local people & prefer to hire Indonesians for these menial jobs. I’ve always wondered why many of them have such low productivity even from the very beginning of their careers. This reflects the local men more than women. I find the local women more industrious & reliable.

After observing them & especially their young up-close for 2 years, I realise it has got a lot to do with their attitude towards life. Happy go lucky & cukup makan is a mantra many of them live by. They were not forced to live from hand to mouth. They chose to live from hand to mouth. This way of life has been handed down from generation to generation as if it was genetic.

This is what many of them will do. When they do not have money, they will go looking for work. Once they get their wages, they will not work. They want to enjoy first. They spend their money on cheap booze, contraband cigarettes & cheap women. Only when their funds run dry, they go searching for work. Some of these men even have families to take care of.

Compare this to another group that also chooses to live from hand to mouth, young Anglo-Saxons. There is however a big difference between the local men & young whites who choose a hand to mouth lifestyle. Our locals want to enjoy life while the whites want to live life. They go from country to country, town to town & city to city because they want to see the world. They finance their travels from any work that they can find wherever they are. When they have experienced all that they can from one place, they will save their money & move on to another place.

Now let’s look at another group of people who have thrived all over the world. The Chinese. They are industrious by choice. Many of them come from impoverished backgrounds as well. Since they were young, they were taught to be frugal & work hard. This is why many of them go from rags to riches in 1 generation. They are willing to work hard for a small profit & still save every penny. All the money saved will either be used for a business or for their children.

One of the challenges that a teacher working with the locals will face is the students are bright but many they are unwilling to work hard. They want to be doctors, engineers & lecturers. Many of them possess the talent & potential but few realise their ambitions because many refuse to suffer temporarily for long-term gain. This short-sightedness is a mental handicap that is keeping these people from progressing.

I have to use short-sighted rewards & punishments to steer them in the right direction. Candies & the cane are my left & right hand. I use these to get them into a positive habit. Hopefully, by the time they leave my class, there is enough momentum to carry them further. It is a slow & painful process of change. Pray for them & those of us working for them.

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