The Butterfly Effect, ‘Merdeka!’ and M’sia today

Opinion  |  Azly Rahman
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | We live in a world patterned by randomness, of systems of organized chaos, of butterflies that flapped their wings in the ‘70s in the Amazonian jungle creating ripples surrounding them, which today indirectly created hurricanes, thunderstorms of a massive scale, creating tsunamis, and shifts in ocean floors that became chaos in the weather system.

There is no cause and effect, or causal relationship here, but there is a sense of inter-relationships of events, which may be discerned mathematically, of which fractal-geometric patterns could be constructed. We have complex systems of unpredictability at work, like the inner workings of fate and determinism, of deus ex machina, of the human agency and divine intervention. Music of the Newtonian spheres meets Buddhist koan music meets Jimi Hendrix's and Eddie Van Halen's guitar riffs.

I thought of my beloved country, Malaysia, today, after having a conversation with students on global issues and chaos theory, on how to read the world and interpret it, linking the idea that we cannot predict things, that there will be war and violence, interspersed by relative periods of peace, detente, ceasefires, but the bombings and maiming will continue, whether in Yemen by the US-Saudi-Israeli led coalition, or the mass-killings of the stateless Rohingya Muslims by the Buddhist-monk-led pogrom aided by the military, or the violence perpetually committed by the Zionist-state of Israel upon the Palestinians, especially in Gaza and the West Bank.

I thought of karma, of the world as perhaps a battleground of good versus evil, a Zarathustrian notion. A location of the reincarnations of avatars at war with one another. We live in a violent world, as if God had long ago left the scene, letting human beings slaughter one another using now meaningless arguments of race, religion, nationalism, wealth, power, inclusivity, exclusivity, this and that racial superiority - these as leitmotif and reason to dominate and annihilate one another.

A hopeless world we are living in? "Empty spaces, what are we living for? Abandoned spaces, I guess we know the score. … Doesn't anybody know what we are living for?" I recall Freddy Mercury of the British rock group Queen lamenting in one of his songs.

Then, my long existential moment came a-visitin'. What is the meaning of all these? Of war, violence, poverty, of powerful individuals running the planet? Of the world getting hotter, weapons of mass destruction getting deadlier, of the world's poverty and hunger getting closer to NO-EXIT, like an absurd play of the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

I thought of Malaysian politics in all its absurdity...

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