MySay: Are we part of the global herd?

This article first appeared in Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 28, 2020 - January 10, 2021.
MySay: Are we part of the global herd?
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As humans, we have been created to have a sound mind with our own thought process to think and discern between good and bad, and decide what to do to sustain and survive. I believe my thought-provoking book Non-Conforming, written in 2013, offers the antidote for a virus called the “herd mentality”. Here is an excerpt:

“If you have to choose between making good decisions and having a good thinking process, go for the latter. When you have a good thinking process, the likelihood of you making good decisions is greater.

Do not allow anyone who says a certain thing is always done a certain way to get in your way. Be a non-conformist. Disrupt the norm so that you can come up with lots of original ideas.

“Just because the majority of people say something should be such and such, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right thing. Who are we as humans to create our own laws of life and say that they are the correct way of life? For example, should everything that’s sanctioned by humans in this world be followed? I think not. We represent perfection in creation with a brain and mind to think. The philosophy is: If it’s man-made, it’s meant to be improved.”

In welcoming 2021, I call upon my fellow Malaysians to think for ourselves and not be among those with a herd mentality. This brings me to the current subject of conformity to standard operating procedures (SOPs) because of the fear of the spread of Covid-19. Our country, like many other nations, conforms to the SOPs issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

If we were to put on our thinking cap and look at things squarely without having any blinkers on, and if we were to truly understand the concept of “if it’s man-made, it’s meant to be improved”, then we would realise that the better course of action for us as a nation to take is “kita jaga kita” (we take care of each other).

This includes the issue of taking Covid-19 vaccines, touted as the means to achieve normalcy. I urge Malaysians to do our own research, look beyond the obvious and ask the right questions. The right answers are very likely to stare us in the face.

I am neither anti-vaccine nor anti-establishment. I am all for human sustainability and the smartness to do the right thing. I am actually anti-stupidity and anti-herd mentality. Applying a non-conforming thought process is the antidote for me.

In the past, humans faced physical colonisation that saw the colonised people allowing the invaders to forcefully change certain aspects of their culture and way of life. Colonisation still exists today but in a different, more subtle, form, such as colonisation of the mind. We must recognise that some of us live in such conditions today.

With the tides of time, humans have evolved, as have business enterprises and other entities. We could never turn back the clock, so let us stop wishing for the “good old days”. Let us accept that our lives have changed because of the fear of Covid-19, which has been programmed in us.

Let us learn to live with it and accept its existence, just as people in the past accepted and lived with leprosy, for instance. The lack of understanding and the fear of leprosy were so great that people did not even want to go near those who were infected. Likewise, the fear of AIDS. People with AIDS were once shunned. But people eventually learned to live with the existence of leprosy, AIDS and the like. It is the same with Covid-19 today. When we do not really understand something, we become fearful of it.

Many of us may test positive for Covid-19 but are asymptomatic. Some may not even be aware that they have Covid-19 because they are not sick. As at Dec 19, the total number of positive cases in our country was 91,969, of which 76,242, or 82.89%, have recovered, with a very small percentage of deaths (433, or 0.47% of the total number of cases). The survival rate is high at 99.53%. It is the same with worldwide data.

The Global Report 2019-nCoV published in September 2020 containing scientific evidence released by experts, scientists and doctors around the world states: “Only a very small number of people are at risk of a potentially serious outcome from the infection — mainly those with underlying serious medical conditions in conjunction with advanced age and frailty and those with immune compromising conditions ... There is an extremely low mortality risk of -0.2% or less, while 99% are not adversely affected by Covid-19.” It further states that children in particular are more likely to be hit by lightning than to die of Covid-19.

Ebola, dengue and AIDS are more potent than Covid-19. If a vaccine is needed to fend off Covid-19, then let us learn to be a producer of a required vaccine that will be reliably safe for our use. Let us self-sustain and self-protect. We must become a truly sovereign nation, capable of producing our own solutions.

We have to accept that Covid-19 is here among us. Next, we must continue to live well by taking good care of our well-being, including our health by increasing our immunity, maintaining cleanliness all around, eating healthy food, taking our health supplements and having enough rest and sleep. Focus on protecting and taking greater care of the susceptible groups with high risks of Covid-19 fatality, instead of applying movement restrictions to all.

We must allow the rest — the young and the able-bodied — to continue to work and spur economic activity to continue building Malaysia as a great nation. Individuals, businesses and industries have suffered enough in 2020. If we persist in continuing with more movement restrictions that have resulted in billions of losses this year, then what difference can we expect in the new year?

If we want 2021 to be better; do not be the cows that merely follow blindly. We must take the experiences in 2020 as lessons learnt. If we fail to do this, then expect another difficult year.

Datuk Azrin Mohd Noor is the founder of Sedania Group, an innovator, author and IP expert

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