I read the Robinson Crusoe authored by the late Daniel Defoe years ago; it journaled the life of a shipwrecked man stranded on an island with no inhabitants. There he painstakingly learned how to kindle a fire, hunt for food, and make a house out of a cave, among other things. He learned how to survive on his own, fighting his way through cannibals and captives and mutineers. In the end, he was “found” after 28 long years, and brought back to the shores of England.
Now that is his story.
It’s a sad, sad, really sad world out there. Gloom is monopolizing its dirty little antics, shadowing all the horrifying terror. To hear of so much pain, so much suffering breathing humans are enduring day by day – it’s quite upsetting. I opened up the newspapers today to find the first two pages complete with news about the incredibly devastating plight of a large group of Myanmar migrants stranded on a boat with absolutely no food and no water. Oh god, how have they been able to survive so long onboard? Ten of them have already died; the rest are starving to death with nothing appropriate for life. Imagine having to rely solely on survival instincts when every other instinct has worn out itself. This can become pressing, which I have no doubt already begun circling about among the migrants.
The distraught, anguished faces of the children and men and women on the boat speak of their intolerable desperation. No place to go, no food, no water. To think that these are the first of the basic psychological needs that must be inherently met. Without these basic building blocks, stress sets in, first mentally, and then physically. Because things that used to fall within their internal locus of control starts to slip away from their grasp – fast. Depression caves in. Worst still, when one sees their loved ones dying of ill health and whatever else.
I agree with Marina Mahathir that we need to head out to the Andaman seas and provide urgent aid. Malaysia has more than enough resources to provide for the needy. Furthermore, time is running out – it is already night and soon a new day will dawn. Let there be no hate, no prejudice, no questioning as to who where, and how they belong. They are simply humans like us. Humans who have the right to live, and should be treated accordingly.
There lies a verse in the Scriptures: “Do unto thy neighbors as thy would do unto thyself.” Probably putting ourselves in their shoes might help. Being stuck in a floating boat is not the same as being stuck in a fertile island – this is real life, not a movie. It is more of a matter of life and death. It is not their fault that they chose to leave their land in the first place. To have wanted to leave the country in hopes of a better future for one’s family, only to have them shattered because of ill-knowledge, is the most unfortunate thing that could happen to a perfectly okay human being.
I fear what will happen to the younger Myanmar generation. I fear if the boat is left abandoned, and everyone onboard dies of sickness and hunger. I fear also, if the ship is left abandoned, and the migrants find their way out to land – and tear upon every other person they see, because they have developed a resilience over torture and have turned their back against Mankind who failed to help them. I fear for the plight of the migrants as they continue to live ahead with their lives, and yet because of the experience develop PTSD or any other form of psychological disease. I fear also for the safety of everyone else, that they may become indirect victims of this traumatizing condition.
Because they are only human.
A silent prayer passes my lips for their rescue.
Alicia Ai Leng
The Tale of the Rohingyar Boat People by Alicia Ai Lengis licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.