My condo unit in Malaysia is in the area known as Golden triangle. My kitchen window faced one of the side roads and every day I would keep Yaya on the kitchen counter and together we watched what I called ‘view from the kitchen window’. People old and young rushing here and there, cars zipping by, roti man on his bike and tooting the horn and the birds.There was an Oriole nest on the tree by the roadside and we watched the oriole flying back and forth to the nest and in the evening we went for a walk to see if the chicks hatched.
Usually whenever foreign dignitaries visits KL, the main streets get a face lift. The flags of the foreign country will fly along side the Malaysian flag from all the lamp posts..there will be more hanging plants, flowers etc, This beautifying process is only reserved for major roads. I can’t remember who the dignitary was ( ? Gusmao), but it was said that particular visit, he might want to visit the market in the side street near my home. Water tankers were send to clean the pavement. All the hawkers were removed and even the missing bricks on the pavement were replaced. It was all good and I hoped more foreign dignitaries will decide to visit the market.
And that is when I noticed that, in the quest of beautifying the street, some bright spark felt the beautiful tree growing on the side street is an eye sore and had to be chopped down. The oriole nest was still there and I took Yaya and went to the guys who were all set to chop the tree and showed them the nest. They laughed at me and then told me “Mahathir’s order” I tried to explain to them that, Mahathir will never order to chop a perfectly functioning tree. They destroyed the nest and chopped the tree..price for idiocy.. As I walked back to my Condo, I told Yaya ” there is a native american saying , only when the last tree has been cut down, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, people will learn that you can’t eat money” She was 3 + years old then.. I didn’t think she understood what I was saying.
Sometime ago, Yaya had to present a paper..and this is what she wrote.
There are two sides to every coin, on one side you have money as en enemy and on the other side, it is a friend and since time immemorial it has been said that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. However, in today’s society the line between friend and foe has worn extremely thin and you can no longer tell them apart. It only takes a flip of the coin for money to change from your friend to your enemy or vice versa.
SHOW FILM ( Sorry, I don’t know how to upload the film)
The main issue of today’s society is the fact that we let money control our lives; what we do, how we think etc. Such is the case in the poem This Man by poet Celo Kulagoe of which I have been fortunate enough to find and interpret it into a modern day issue that needs to be addressed. This is what I am here to talk about at the xxxxx in xxxxx Exhibition today and I thank you for inviting me here to express my opinions. We’ve all been told that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe it can’t, but it can buy a house, food and clothing all of which bring us comfort which is pretty darn close to happiness. Sure we could possibly live without these things but ask yourself; wouldn’t you rather live in a nice, comfortable house rather than on a park bench? But on the other side of the coin we explore how money brings the complete opposite of happiness.
“Monetary income is one measure of a person’s contribution to society and an incentive to make a greater contribution”, an anonymous quote.
It is a natural human instinct to want to participate and contribute to the community, to see it improve and develop, and this is the real reason of our need for money. However we, as a society have for far too long obsessed over the material things and have forgotten this true nature of why we need it. We have become so obsessed; we completely overlook how it controls our lives. Haven’t we all heard that big things come in small packages? Who would have thought that a single coin could control the human population?
I have chosen an instrumental version of the rap song ‘Aim for the Head’ by Cassidy because its mood and tone match that of my poem, it has a steady melancholy beat to accentuate the frankness of my video. The images I have chosen in my interpretation of this poem depict the ways money is powerful, the many ways in which we are tied to money and the ways in which we are trapped by it.
I have used pictures that represent the children in Africa who have nothing but still manage to be happy while we the western civilization, are consumed with our need for money. In reality these children are the most powerful for they bring meaning to the phrase “Money can’t buy happiness”. The next image consists of an ant to show that money, like an ant, is small but it is always much stronger than expected. I believe that we are controlled by this material worth just like a TV is by a remote; at the press of a button thus an image of a TV remote was used. Though we grace money with a high value we also use it as a punching bag, target it for all our problems and blame it which is why I have chosen to use an image of a target.
In the poem money is referred to as a friend that helps our society- the people and countries grow. The line, “He is extremely decorative, he puts on all kinds of ornaments,” describes the way in which money can be deceitful in its many disguises and this is why I have selected a photo of a mask.
Now we flip back to the other side of the coin and see that though it controls us, this is not always a bad thing as:
“Money can also be an enabler of freedom in that it gives you choices you would not otherwise have and the means to exercise those choices.”, an anonymous quote. Thus I have chosen to include an image of a bird leaving its cage because like the bird, we are given the freedom of choice.
In conclusion, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money”– a Cree Native American Proverb. We don’t see how we are controlled by money, how we are tied to it whether it be a friend or an enemy and through this we have forgotten the real reason we need it.
When I read the last para, I realized how much of an impact parents play in their children’s life and I asked her where did she hear the Cree quote? She said ” Mom, You remember the annai cutting the tree near our house in KL that had the Oriole’s nest? You told me the quote that day”