Do you speak Chinese? If you don’t, let me first apologise for our grammatically wrong title which is a direct translation of a Chinese phrase that means ‘I can’t be bothered any more’ or in chic lingo ‘Whatever…’.
Although apathy is not a value I appreciate, there is something about this phrase that somehow captivates me.
Commonly used by parents whose children refuse to toe the line or hapless employers whose domestic maids keep repeating small, harmless but annoying mistakes, the phrase often represents resignation and hopelessness at a situation.
Yet, it does not always carry negative connotations.
Spiritual leader Rabbi Julius Gordon once said- “Love is not blind- it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less”.
Many years ago, I remember standing at a crossroads in Brickfields, Malaysia’s designated zone for the blind, where I saw a lady in a garish purple skirt and mismatched red blouse. Standing at a traffic light, she suddenly started calling out someone’s name.
Startled by her strange behaviour, I looked around, and saw another blind person, a man in equally mismatched attire of brown pants and striking yellow t-shirt. Hearing her voice, he replied loudly, oblivious to the curious looks from passers- because they were both blind!
I went over to the lady and told her that her guy friend was waiting for her opposite the road. As she went over, they held hands and chatted happily and they walked off, totally unconscious of each other’s appearance because what they saw was simply each other’s hearts.
Then there was also the classical story of six blind men who were asked to determine what an elephant looked like.
The one who felt a leg said the elephant is like a pillar; whereas the one who touched the tail says it’s like a rope; the one who feels the trunk said it’s like a tree branch; the one who felt the ear said it’s like a hand fan; the one who felt the belly said it’s like a wall; and the one who felt the tusk said it’s like a solid pipe.
Obviously no one was right because they only touched one part of the elephant instead of seeing or touching the entire animal. The total picture only became complete when they all combined efforts to share their experiences as one.
This story is still used today to help people see how we can all live in harmony despite having different dreams, cultures, backgrounds and religions, if only we look beyond our blind spots.
Yes, when all else fails, stop looking with your eyes and start looking with your heart.
We may all have our differences, but ultimately we are all the same underneath, with the same fears, desires, ambitions and insecurities. May we never lose sight of Man’s greatest gift: our humanity.