Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, once said, “A nation is not built by mountains and trees … it is built by the character of its citizens.”
For Aristotle, self-discipline was about living a life that complied with the norms and expectations of society.
His words of wisdom are still relevant today. Discipline, observing rules and regulations, and abiding by good behavioural ethics are fundamental to the orderly functioning of society.
A free society not only upholds democratic norms but also expects its people to live by decent social norms. In a nutshell, it upholds the rights that society expects and shuns the wrongs.
The role of decent members of society goes beyond just obeying the law. It also entails behaving and exhibiting noble values like honesty, integrity, respect for the law, discipline and civic consciousness.
Regrettably, many in Malaysia lack these intrinsic values. They seem unable to surmount narrow-minded needs and selfish interests that may endanger others in society.
The nation appears to lack enough exemplary people with a moral obligation and unwavering commitment to their neighbours, the community and others in society. If basic traits of human correctness are lacking, then the nation stands on an insecure foundation.
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I feel disgusted when I witness the irresponsibility and appalling behaviour of many people daily. These undisciplined folk come from all walks of life, ranging from ordinary folk to the affluent in luxury cars. I don’t have to go far; I only need to look within Bangsar and its vicinity.
Motorists and motorcyclists beating the lights can cause fatal accidents. So too those who disregard pedestrian lights when pedestrians are crossing the road. “Who cares if these careful and law-abiding people crossing the road are hit due to my carelessness,” seems to be the attitude of these motorists.
When motorists and motorcyclists turn from Jalan Maarof into Lorong Maarof 3 in Bangsar Park, they should be able to see the conspicuous ‘no U-turn’ sign, double lines and cones down the road. But many blatantly disregard these traffic warnings: they insist on driving to the end of the road to make a U-turn.
Walk in front of the Bangsar light rail transit station and the adjacent Etiqa building and you will find motorcycles parked on the pedestrian walkway – even obstructing the special lane for blind people.
Just the other day, I was driving behind a cement transporter in front of Maybank in Jalan Maarof. The vehicle was dropping cement on the road. Fortunately, I kept my distance – if I had been a little closer, the cement would have splashed onto my car. I snapped a photo and immediately lodged a complaint. Thankfully, the road was soon resurfaced after my complaint.
Parking by yellow lines and double parking seems to be the norm for many motorists in places like Bangsar Park and Lucky Gardens and on both sides of the roads next to the Bangsar Shopping Complex. Such haphazard parking causes traffic jams in these areas.
Some motorists even block byroads completely, parking their cars in the middle of the road in these areas. Pathetic characters!
In all fairness, I have seen police officers and city hall enforcement officers issuing tickets to offenders, but this seems to be ineffective. Motorists and motorcyclists continue to flout the law. I have requested city hall to erect barriers to prevent such contravention of traffic rules.
Look at the roadside in many parts of Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere and you will see it littered with plastic wrappers and used food containers. Many are not at all concerned about littering the environment.
Take a ride on the elevated light rail trains and you will see youths sitting on priority seats, ignoring the senior citizens, pregnant women and disabled people who are standing. These youths put their heads down on purpose, pretending to be busy texting away on their mobile phones.
I have seen such uncouth behaviour in all parts of the country, not only in Bangsar and KL.
The character of any country is determined by the character of its people. Everyone has a responsibility to make the country a decent place to live in, by helping to create a comfortable ambience. If we are responsible people, it means we know what is right and wrong; we have consciousness and concern for our fellow human beings.
Conversely, those who contravene the law and desecrate the environment are just exposing certain abnormal complexes within them. Such deplorable acts are a pitiable reflection of their character and upbringing. Obviously, these disgraceful offenders are unconcerned about their self-respect and dignity.
The people of any country must above all adhere to the rule of law. This is essential for the long-term progress and success of any country.
It is our choice whether we want to move forward or backwards as a nation. If we want to be respected as a nation like Singapore, then we must be instilled with virtuous qualities, like many in the ‘red dot’.
St Pope John Paul II once said, “When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.”