Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favoritism...

How easy is it to show favoritism? Or perhaps I should be phrasing it the other way. How difficult is it not to show favoritism? All of us are guilty of this one time or the other.

Favoritism wears many hats. Some call it cronyism. In Malaysia if you are somebody's crony it means you will get big contracts, awards, etc, etc. To be a crony means you are favored over others. You get picked even though you may not be the best pick. You get to be rich faster because of your connections. If you are not a crony... then too bad. You wait for the crumbs to come your way or be really independent.

In Malaysia we have a policy of favoritism. It used to start of with with lofty ideals, that the poor get help but then it got hijacked and became of policy of favoritism; NEP or the New Economic Policy. It is a policy that favors one race over the other. It is a policy that seems to imply rights by birth or colour of skin.

In South Africa, many years ago, favoritism was known by its another name, apartheid. They whites felt they were set apart from the savages. They felt that only they had the right to own lands, be in power.... the same mantra that they are favored. We used to condemn them too. We threw in our support with the world to crush it. We, with our own set of double standards! LOL! ... a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Inn America, they had the KKK, the white hooded brotherhood, the white supremacist, who felt that they were the favored ones. And other inflicted so much cruelty and injustice because they feel they are supreme.

Favoritism, call it whatever name, the crooked sway it represents. It corrupts us. For our kith and kin, we sell everyone short. Wrong become right, gray becomes white. Sometimes, gray remains just that, gray! ... with no effort to make it right.

In recent days, as the list of scholarship recipients (post SPM) is released, we question whether there is 'crookedness' in its award too. Since there has been much noise made about its recipients lately, now more have been awarded but we read about many top scorers being sent to places least expected, given courses unexpected.... such is the case in Malaysia now. We preach piety, we proclaim transparency but when it comes to actions, sometimes it makes you wonder whether or not hypocrisy is the best word used to describe the circus-like acts here.

In the Indian subcontinent, some are favored more over others by birth. The caste system favors by birth. Woe to the one born in the lowest caste for you are cursed to a life of being ostracized. You are deemed unclean even though you are also created of the same human flesh and blood. Favoritism that condemns one to a life of hopelessness.

The end of NEP but not the end of favoritism. A new term coined... a grand term. Ketuanan Melayu. A master just by birth even though you might be a hopeless bum.

Martin Luther King Jr once said he had a dream.... he said that he dreamed that one day, all man would be born equal...."I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Read his full speech here. It's inspiring.

But time and again, our penchant has been for favoritism. It's easy to see why. When we favor, we are making sure that our family stands to gain. None of us is insulated from it. We favor because instinctively we want to share our bounty with our kith and kin. We favor because it makes us feel good. It makes us feel needed and relevant. And it makes us feel powerful. Giving is sometimes associated with power.... that people depend on us.

But I think we should be mindful. In church last Sunday, as I was flipping through my Bible, I am reminded of these verses in James 2:9; But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.....

Sometimes we show favouritism but we use guises to cover it up...

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