“On one’s knees” (from ‘Pithy Perspectives’)

“It was a night of terror. Not a terror of the unseen, with ghosts and hobgoblins silently sneaking into the subconscious of superstitious sleeping souls; for that is when the terror of the unknown takes hold of those whose minds are not fixed firmly on terra firma. It was indeed the terror of the visible, the audible, and the kinesthetically palpable.

While the terror of the intangible arouses a silent scream, the terror of the visible, the audible, and the kinesthetically palpable causes, despite a probable rigidity of all human muscles, very loud and frightening screams. While such screams frighten the listener in a certain unsettling way, they frighten the screamer in a different and horrifying way.

On that night of terror, the question on everyone’s lips began with a simple anxiety-laden “What’s happening?” As the ground split in an apparently random fashion, the next question, uttered in a terrible fear, was “Which way do we run?” This was followed by a desperate “Is there anywhere I can hide?” as one’s bed, bath and, indeed, house fell into the ravines now forming. People fell into the ravines, and the simultaneous slippage of soil and other debris followed the path of gravity, burying the fallen.

A sudden and peaceful death was the good fortune of those whose trajectory was gravity-driven. If their religious leaders had spoken with sound knowledge, then the souls of the buried would sit at the right hand of God, or on Her knees; or wait to be recycled, in time, for yet another sojourn on Earth; or frolic in Heaven surrounded by music and the sound of fountains; or wait to be chosen for a reward of something or other. It would not matter. They were out of harm’s way.

For those who were required to live with the terror of the sounds and consequences of Earthly destruction, there was no salvation. They would, with their broken bones and maladjusted minds, die slowly of cold, starvation, severe illnesses caused by polluted water (if there was any water available), criminal activity by fellow humans driven by greed of one kind or another, and lax recovery-efforts by those of their rulers who were capable of remaining in office.

When Earth had finished rupturing, and parts of the countryside had simply sunk into the neighboring sea or moved out into the ocean to form new islands, the survivors would discover that all the known volcanoes had blown their tops. While this outpouring would enrich the soil for the centuries to come, the volcanic ash thrown up into the atmosphere would block the sun over all of Earth for decades. So more people would starve to death, societies would disappear, and Gaia (the Soul of Earth) would rejoice!

While the human population of Earth needed a drastic pruning, I did not want you to die. But I could not see you. Did you survive the night of terror? Regrettably, I still cannot help you, as I am sitting on the right knee of Herself!”

 

Cope and adapt – or whinge?

After nearly 7 decades of a highly interactive and contributory life in Australia as an adult, I believe that I am qualified to conclude thus:

  • This is not the country I entered. Then, residents were self-sufficient and relatively poor, displaying respect where appropriate, and with pride in who they were. They adapted very successfully, progressively, to the tremendous changes to their society. ‘God’s Will’ did have a role.
  • Today, new rights have been coined by the greedy and the opportunistic; government is required to accept responsibilities which were traditionally those of individuals, families, and private enterprise. The ‘nanny state’ has arrived.
  • ‘Other peoples’ money’ is thereby demanded to compensate for the evil behaviour of priests; offset the low taxes paid by tax-minimising corporations, especially the multinationals; compensate for the calculated profligacy of individuals; and subsidise the so-called ‘wealth creation’ by the rich (including politicians) benefiting from questionable tax concessions. Taxpayers who have no way of protecting their earnings are increasingly fleeced.
  • Our politicians are not trusted. Governments are seen as pre-occupied with politics, rather than with policies. And the nation is more backward than it should be, while political careers move forward.
  • Early post-war immigrants integrated into the nation successfully, ignoring the prejudice (not always racism) displayed through spoken words and painful acts of discrimination. More recent immigrants, entering a nation considerably tolerant of difference, profess to have been hurt and humiliated by pejorative spoken words!
  • These new arrivals could have no idea of the insults and denial of equal opportunity suffered by those of us who acclimatised superior white Aussies to the presence of people not like them.
  • Welfare is not directed just to offset hardship. It is now a right. Spokesmen for the industry seek a ‘sustainable lifestyle’ for recipients, which includes going to the cinema, etc. etc. Why not? Someone else is paying.
  • Some new arrivals are quick to adapt to the current national ethos: whinge, and whinge yet again.
  • Castles built on clouds will collapse. Wait to hear the cacophony of complaints as the need for greater self-sufficiency zooms sky high (as the river begins to dry out).

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults (Part 4)

The Bell

The Committee met. They sat in a safe niche in the garden wall from which they could contemplate Max sunning himself. What was more disconcerting was that the mice could hear him purring in his lethargic state. Was he mentally visualizing his catch of the day? They were naturally aware that hunters, like sportsmen everywhere, tended, from time to time, to rehearse those actions which were essentially inherent in any success in their endeavors. Collectively, the mice then veered their minds away from such a debilitating and despairing vision.

When they began to consider their problem, their minds turned predictably to the idea of a bell tied to Max’s collar. This was normal. For minds, whether human or animal, tended, like cars and mountain goats, to follow the tracks already laid down. Some of the tracks of the mind would have been laid down generations ago, and genetically transferred. Like most of mankind, mousedom does not bother to ask, “How is it so?” I mean, who goes about asking, “Who made the sun rise today?” Of course, roosters in the farmyard (and humans born in the Chinese Year of the Rooster) intuitively know that they cause the sun to rise (when they start to crow). This they do when certain electromagnetic vibrations integral to both sentient life and the allegedly inert rock called Earth coincide. Such synchronicities are really not coincidences, but predictable – like the minds of House’s Committee of Wise Mice.

At their first meeting, they chose to live up to their name by deciding wisely not to call for submissions from the rest of the tribe. The thought of Mona (the moaner) and Porthos (the Insistent) offering relevant and sound advice was akin to believing that Max would suddenly fall dead. The morbidity of that menace, consequent upon some strategy concocted by the Committee, was to be deliberated upon later. Foremost in their collective minds was the bell. Virginia had already donated a light bell with a superior tinkle from her toy collection.

Their deliberations went thus. Logically, they first dealt with the question of how. That was easy. The bell would be tied with a loop of fishing line found in the garden to Max’s collar. The question of who led them unimaginatively to Virginia, but she was really too little. A Lilliputian solution was discarded as there was likely to result a great carnage. Mice are not like ants, capable of acting in concert. The prospect of achieving Nirvana prematurely through collective action, even in the interests of a common cause, was not enticing. The mice were not as foolish as those men described in the so-called World Wars of the twentieth century as gun fodder, and who seemingly periodically were sent to save empire, introduce democracy (even with a tribal twist), or to reduce the number of unemployables in the economy (dastardly as this may appear). Whicky, they knew, would not do it – he was an honorable cat. Conscripting an adult was to imagine the impossible. The bell was clearly out – never to be heard tinkling the arrival of terrible terror.

Deportation or death

Other options had to be considered. Could we, asked a Committee member, have Max taken away; that is, sort of deported? After all, some nations get rid of their unwanted residents by deportation. But then, the deportees-to-be first need to be identified as illegal residents. However, Max was a legal resident, adopted by his owners (Max’s imagined slaves). Ha, said the Committee, in our yard he is an illegal arrival like the boat people sailing onto Australian shores. Could we ban him from entry? What a lovely thought, the Committee said. But how? Have the garden hose turned on by a switch tripped by their infamous illegal as he hopped over the fence? No, this is beyond the capacity of mice, cats, and a little girl. In any event, mice too do not like to be made wet – not involuntarily.

Could we have the menace somehow removed, asked the Committee. I suppose the people living under the heavy heel of Stalin, Pol-Pot, or Hitler had asked the same question, said House – and in the same act of futility. Could Virginia’s family somehow convince the owners of Max to get rid of him? A parallel was the past practice of moving to another parish those members of the cloth accused of molesting some of their flock. Ah, that would mean, said House, opening the Pandora’s Box of the unusual connection between the normally unwanted fellow occupants of Virginia’s home (to wit, the mice) and the hitherto unknown and unbelievable communication (spoken and otherwise) between mice, cats, and their child. No, no, that would not do at all. Some matters are best left alone.

That Max might voluntarily keep away from Virginia’s back yard was not even considered, as it was totally improbable. Cats, like the Romini of old in mankind, are the most nomadic spirits in the animal kingdom, are they not? What then? Death? By suicide squad? A sort of jihad? Were there mice in Iraq or Palestine who might be consulted? Whereas there is no evidence of jihadist mice in these countries, perhaps they might offer advice based on their observations. House chuckled to himself at the thought of some of his tribe sidling up to Max with explosives strapped to their backs, ready to take their enemy and themselves to kingdom come – for no one escapes life alive.

The Committee met again and again – and found no solution. Unlike Senate Committees in certain parliaments in the Western world, the members of the Committee were one-pointed (in the vernacular of the Hindus); that is, totally focused on the point at issue. There were no divisive politics, no stage managing, no political mummery, and no bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. The urgency of their deliberations was indeed underlined by the daily loss of a constituent. If the mice had belonged to a religious institution, their priest would certainly have been very busy and the vendors of religious artifacts and icons would each have made a small fortune. For it is the nature of religion that the agony, fear, or uncertainty of the faithful provides the priests and profiteers with sufficient sustenance to submerge their own subliminal insecurities.

Finally, House and his Committee admitted defeat. Despondency descended. The derailment of the intended death-defeating drama of belling Max brought despair. House felt keenly the desolation of the failure of leadership. Then, hallelujah, a savior came to House’s aid. Miracles may be as rare as hens’ teeth, but they can occur. At a private meeting, Whicky suggested to House that he might have a solution. His idea was so problematic, he said, that the stars, which are normally value-neutral, might just take pity on the defenceless mice.

 

 

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 2)

The Who

“So, the tribe had ineluctably glided from an intended chatty confabulation straight through to the formulation of an action plan, bypassing that conference stage when all those present, or factions thereof, would have been consulted. House’s unilateral conclusion and decision now faced the tribe with a requirement to define a plan of implementation; that is, to focus on how now that the what had been set out as the desired outcome. If House had only been able to watch the news on TV, he would have noted the parallel path followed relatively recently at an international forum by that infamous trio, the Council of the Chilling.

Led by a leader for whom time is a fast flow of funds well lubricated with petrocarbons, this Council sought to impose regime changes and a form of democracy based on individualism upon tribalism-based theocratic or military-controlled governments, wherever they were to be found. Like the right-to-lifers genuflecting before the throne of a theocratic ruler way over the seas, who are prepared to kill humans who do not agree with them on matters relating to the netherlands of the female members of humanity in order to save what they choose, arbitrarily, to define as human life, the members of this Council of the Chilling were quite willing to kill (and maim) women and children, but only collaterally of course, in the name of Western capitalistic democracy. House’s decision making had an international precedent.

Not knowing that mice might mimic mankind, the tribe waited, quivering in a silence well larded with both uncertainty and anticipation. House’s authority was thereby multiplied a thousand-fold. With a wink toward Angelina (his wife number two), he spoke again. Knowing that brevity beats bombast and obfuscating oratory, he said simply: “We know what we need to do. But, we will not waste any time discussing how we will do this. The question for us now, to be dealt with in real-time, is who will do it.” In adopting this approach, House had another international precedent, although he was not aware of it (at least in his conscious mind). The Council of the Chilling had taken a similar path in attempting to put tribal governance to a cryogenic death; it knew what it wanted to do, but without working out how this would be achieved in a durable manner, it had decided who would do it.

In the silence that had reentered the scene, neither Mona the moaner (House’s number one wife) nor Porthos (who once thought that he had a clear and undeniable thought to offer) nor anyone else had anything to say. Their thoughts and feelings had all been forcefully exploded only recently in that frenzy of self-expression. Instead, they were busily thinking about life and death – death without warning and a certain predictability about it, a martyr’s death (although they had never heard about Islam), and whether there was possibly a pleasurable life after death.

However, like any good leader, House realized that stressful peregrinations through mental minefields needed a break. In humankind, this might involve a Bex (a headache powder of yesteryear), a cup of tea (a drink still in fashion), and a good lie-down (most fashionable with unionized workers in industrial nations of the Western kind). Mouseland offered a similar process of rejuvenation. He would recommend that. However, like every clever and manipulative political leader in mankind, he realized that a holding pattern of non-action had to be embarked upon immediately. This would be akin to a Royal Commission, whose report he would subsequently reject (as is done in many a democratic parliament) if it did not concur with his own views.

With this template in mind, he closed this extra-ordinary meeting of the tribe with these words resounding in the ears of his tribe: “I will arrange for a Committee of Wise Mice to inquire and report on our long-standing problem. Those of you who are of a practical nature will, of course, speak before this Committee. The question before all of us is simply: ‘Who will bell the cat?’”

 

Thus ended the parable recounted by little Virginia who had somehow learned to understand the language of mice and cats.

Since life, as experienced, can (and will) be viewed in different (and possibly contradictory) ways, the perspectives, complexities, and concerns of the major participants in this saga pertaining to mice and mortality are indubitably worthy of note.

 

Maxwell, I am

I am, I really am, I bloody well am, Maxwell – not Max, certainly not Mangy Max. It is bad enough to have a glorious name like mine reduced to something meaningless like Max, or modified thereafter to Maxie-baby by little Virginia. But the shame of it all to be now referred to as Mangy Max (by House) or MM (by Whicky). And this is in spite of my glorious black shiny coat, the result of my daily diet of a scrofulous mouse. These mice are so slow-witted as not to notice my right paw in its descent upon their hind quarters.

It was House the Mouse who first used that most disparaging appellation Mangy Max. He had spat out that derogatory nickname in an inflammatory intent to create a curse – somewhat in the manner of Montezuma’s Curse – when complaining about my behavior towards his tribe. His complaint had strangely been to Whicky, my neighbor and friend. Whicky, a long-haired Persian (cat, of course), whose historical ancestry is as glorious as mine, shares his abode with House and his mob.

Purely as an aside, why does he do that? Perhaps the eyesight of the Persians had been dimmed during the Dark Ages in Central Asia and the Middle East. This was the time when there was war in the heavens. Dragons then ruled (for a while) that part of the Cosmos in which Earth rushed unperturbed on its regular rounds while Earthlings trembled in fear or trudged through the deserts for decades in semi-darkness. Their gods (which included cats of course) and their farming animals also suffered from this blindness. Well, that might explain Whicky’s seeming stupidity. As a further aside, you will, I am sure, pardon my attempted alliteration as I have so little joy since my family jewels and then my competence to propagate my line of ancient gods were dedicated to the compost heap. I know where they were deposited because Whicky told me so. How did Whicky know? Because his principal slave Virginia (but who actually and foolishly thinks that Whicky is her pet) told him so.

Returning to human folly like the humans I had adopted and trained, Virginia and her family thought – oh dear, how shallow these humans are – that they were the ones who had adopted us as their pets. Mind you, it is a kindly intended description. The connotation of possessing a pet powerfully led to these humans being propelled into a state of smug satisfaction. Pardon the alliteration again, but they are so satisfyingly soothing in the light of that space in my netherlands. I am almost light-headed, indeed slight-headed as well, so to speak.

This unsuspected role reversal allows us gods of Egypt and Persia (and no doubt other places as well) to so dominate our humans. We can climb up curtains (something our Siamese brethren are wont to do), scratch and tear fabric-covered furniture (all of us enjoy that, even when there are trees with appropriate bark in our back yards), or disdainfully look askance and refuse to react when called, picked up, handled fondly, or otherwise shown affection. By these attitudes and actions, we indicate with such sweet subtlety that we, the descendants of the gods, cannot be ruled. Mealtimes are, however, a different kettle of fish (a heavenly thought). Even humans show respect for the cook, don’t they? I mean, a stomach which rumbles forever is so un-majestic!

My innate majesty requires me to regain my proper name and public respect. What is it about these antipodean relics of a eugenically-cleansed species of humans that they need to reject or at least to confuse those necessary gender, tribal, or other ancestral boundaries? For example, someone known as Ali is not a turbaned Turk, but a girl with the birth name Alison. Her modern-day surname of Mead has been truncated from Meadowcroft. I wonder why she chooses to discard the evidence of her tribal, cultural, and geographical heritage. She really should learn from us cat-gods as we surrealistically survey the scene surrounding us with sly satisfaction.”

 

‘The Dance of Destiny’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM – Overview

PART 1  :   THE WHEELS FELL OFF

Chapter  1  –  The upheaval

Covers the attack by the Japanese on Malaya in Dec 1941, the surprising retreat of British and Australian troops, the Japanese military Occupation begun in early 1942, and life under the Japanese until 1945.  Sub-headings are: a casual contact; a speedy withdrawal; avoiding the bombs; life under the Japanese.  This last sub-heading is further broken down to: the early days; the latter days; the final days; a retrospect.

The retrospect highlights the corruption of Christian colonialism, Japanese military brutality, the starvation of the people and, for my family and the surrounding neighbourhood, a reign of terror imposed for a period by a gang of communist anti-Japanese (so they claimed as they carried out some killing of civilians).

Chapter  2  –  Back in time

Describes in detail the peaceful progressive life of an immigrant family from Ceylon in the context of the British administration before the Japanese Occupation.  Sub-headings are: origins; boyhood; the way we lived.  Highlights the religious and cultural tolerance of people of diverse origins, and the way we all lived.

Chapter  3  –  Forward in time

With the defeat of Japan, Malaya became focused on the future, on freedom from foreign rule.  The author’s life, however, falls apart.  Yet, there is a glimmer of light ahead.  After a short flare of hope, the author’s life again appears doomed, when his Anglo-Australian wife rejects him on his return to Australia.  This leaves him in a societal and geographical limbo.  A quotation from the Upanishads indicates the author’s optimism-larded realism. 

Sub-headings are: a new beginning; the descent to doom; keeping afloat; Quo Vadis.  The end is dramatic: the reader, like the author, is left in suspense.

PART  2 :  OF HOLES WHICH WERE NOT THERE

Chapter  1  –  Quo Vadis

The author restates his dilemma, but now within the context of family and tribal origins and background.  He draws together the many strands of Destiny-derived influences.  These suggest that he is to belong to Australia.  Yet, there he was, stranded at a kerbside in the city of Melbourne on a cold winter’s morning in 1953.  Reconciliation with his wife offers a future, but in a nation of white supremacists and colonial arrogance.

Chapter  2  –  Memories of White Australia

As necessary stage-setting background, the author recounts his disastrous life in Australia between 1948 and 1952.  The country and people of Australia, as perceived by the author in that period, are presented as further relevant background.  The insights he has gained, the lessons learned, and his obvious respect for Australia’s ‘fair-go’ ethos ready him for his precarious future.

Chapter  3  –  A failed takeoff

In spite of a tremendous effort, involving a substantial denial of sleep over four years, the author is unable to find appropriate graduate employment.  He is a foreigner, and a coloured one as well, as made clear to him.  He has to move to the national capital (a small town set in a desert) to become a public servant.  Beggars cannot be choosers!

Chapter  4  –  The trek to the new world

The sub-headings ‘The launching’ and ‘Settling in’ describe the author’s multifarious experiences, especially his contributory exposure to a range of significant facets of society in the national capital.  He has an interesting life, being involved in an unusually wide range of societal issues.  With his second wife, he builds his family, and becomes integrated into the nation (as the spirit world might have expected).

Then, having  his career path overtly blocked because (as again made clear to him) he is “not one of us”, he moves on.

Chapter  5  –  The forks in the road

There are 2 forks here, the first highlighting the maturation of Australia through its policies on immigrant settlement (of a diverse intake) and citizenship enhancement, leading to an evolving national identity.

The second fork reflects the widening gulf between the Asian values relating to family and respect for one’s elders, and the individualism of the Ultra-West, those nations created by immigrants.  The author decries the alienation overtaking the nation, essentially through the breakdown of the nuclear family.

The author provides adequate detail on both forks, based upon his knowledge and personal experience.

Chapter  6  –  Ultimate Reality

In this chapter the author gathers together all the threads of his life experiences, and ties them into a spiritually coherent philosophy of human existence.  The path available is clearly upward.

Overview :  The nature, role and impact of Destiny are woven lightly through the whole MS.  In much the same way, a personal narrative is set casually in each chapter in the context of relevant geography, history, sociology, politics and philosophy.  Official policies pertinent to each segment of the narrative give additional depth and some colour.

The embellishments, in a story-telling approach, are not easily compartmentalised within each chapter; instead, they float in and out, often with a glancing touch.

Having completed his responsibilities to family and society, he now awaits, in mental and spiritual peace, his return to that Way Station; there he hopes to expand his learning.

 

‘The Dance of Destiny’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM

This book was originally intended to be a memoir, for the benefit of my extended family. Blood- and marriage-related members of this family live mainly in Malaysia and Singapore; some are, however, to be found in Britain, the USA, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Sri Lanka. However, when 14 readers in 4 countries found Part 1(‘The wheels fell off’) very interesting; and a few others later found Part 2 (‘Falling into holes which were not there’) had deep spiritual implications, I had to publish it. In any event, a clairvoyant foretold its publication (in 2004).

This is a personal story, which is also reflective of the recent history of three modern nations.  It is written in the first person as experiences, thoughts, relationships, and observations. The latter are of life, of society, and of individuals, as well as of psychic phenomena, and of the Cosmos. The story is set in colonial British Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore) and in White Australia.

The personal story is of a peaceful life being suddenly transformed into disasters, the major ones having been foretold by a yogi from the Himalayas. These events are portrayed as wheels falling off the author’s life-chances cart. Other disasters are represented as falling into holes which were not there, a quaint concept of philosophical import. Suffering and sorrow, trials and tribulations, juxtaposed with a sustained extraordinary effort to survive, and some consequential achievements and joy, lead the author to examine the nature and role of Destiny. This naturally leads to assertions about matters spiritual. Spin-off benefits of this approach are an understanding:  of cosmic cause and effect; of an acceptance of ultimate Reality as an achievable prospect; of the bonds available between fellow humans; and of prospects of a desirable future when Asian values uplift the ‘fair-go’ ethos of Australia; and vice versa.

This understanding is relevant to the historical presentation of British colonial arrogance, Japanese brutality during its military occupation of Malaya, as well as the progressive evolution of a cohesive multicultural Malayan people from diverse ethnic origins. This scenario is then contrasted with the author’s experiences of the racism of the White Australia era, and the ongoing sensitivity and some fear by the Anglo-Celt Australian of coloured people from ancient civilisations and their cultures.  A further contrast is the religious tolerance already manifest in pre-war Malaya with the bitter religious contest of post-war Christian Australia. The author experienced both racism and tribalism in his career, being “too black” to be a psychologist, and the Australian worker in the private sector being “not ready to accept a foreign executive, especially a coloured one.”

Part 1 of the book (‘The Wheels Fell Off’) deals predominantly with pre-independence Malaya until 1953, and a brief East-West interlude.  The latter reflects the author’s marriage to, and a brief but interesting life in Singapore with, his Anglo-Australian wife. This part ends with the wife rejecting the husband on a cold winter’s morning at the kerbside of her parental home in Melbourne shortly thereafter. To rejoin her, the author, the abject black sheep of the family, the pariah of the community, had cut off any claim he had to return to his roots.  This left him in limbo, both geographical and societal. The ending to Part 1 is indeed dramatic.

Descriptions of ordinary life under the Japanese (not commonly published) have historical significance, according to a professor of history and politics in Australia.

In about 65,000, words the author has woven a light mesh of geography, history, sociology, politics and philosophy, in which he has embedded the story of his ‘wheels-falling-off’ experiences.  More than a dozen readers in four countries have said that it is an interesting ’read’, and well written.  The three pre-publication endorsements and the professional appraisal confirm this.

Part 2 (‘Of holes which were not there’) is set in Australia, from 1953 to the present. In about 65,000 words, it covers 55 years of the author’s life as a settler in a country he did not choose to live in, commencing with his exposure to the virulence of White Australia. His varied and highly contributory life; the career barriers experienced (including the shifting of goalposts, racist treatment, and the ganging up by some Roman Catholics of a so-called Irish persuasion); personal involvement as a volunteer in education policy, in career protection in the public sector, and (currently) in community health services; and some confusing psychic phenomena, are woven into a coherent whole into this part of the manuscript. As well, relevant aspects of society and community relations are included.

This part also reflects some post-war history of Australia (as evidenced by the first academic endorsement), and the successful integration of immigrants into a maturing and progressively more tolerant multicultural nation. The author, however, offers some strongly critical comment on official policies relating to multiculturalism, ethnic affairs, refugee entry, and citizenship, all based on his in-depth experiences.

The author, however, highlights with warmth the on-going ‘fair-go’ ethos of Australia, and the open-ness and reliability of the self-confident Anglo-Australian worker, whilst expressing concern about the individualism of the immigrant-created nations of the West, in contrast to the time-tested communitarian values of Asia and much of non-Protestant Christian Europe. His conclusion affirms his hope that his country of involuntary adoption will be a politico-societal beacon to neighbouring countries, with both East and West learning from each other’s cultural values.

In his attempts to explain events and behaviour which otherwise make little sense, the author has titled his story ‘The Dance of Destiny.’ Believing that this MS fits into the genres modern literature/memoir and society/philosophy, he offers his inter-cultural experiences and his philosophy (including a belief in one people arising from ethno-cultural diversity) to an intelligent global readership, as well as to those who might simply want to read an interesting and well written story.  The target reader is the genderless Everyman.

 

A snapshot of author Raja Arasa RATNAM

A Hindu Malaysian Australian, with a residence of nearly 7 decades in the Land of Oz, and participating fully (and therefore atypically) in Australian civil society (and at leadership level), with his work and social life taking him across almost all levels of the Australian people, and a variety of industries and occupations.

He has thereby been able to observe, most carefully, communities of immigrants, Anglo-Celt and other Australians, segments of the business and public sectors, a trade union environment, the work-shy and other welfare dependants, the asset-rich age pensioners, as well as many of those unable to offer long-term commitment in human relations, even within family. A marginal member of a community is often better enabled to identify the structures and operating inter-relationships of that community and, thus, its ethos and essence.

He has lunched with a Governor-General, and shared the head table with a couple of State Governors and Federal Ministers – at different times of course. He has dealt officially with captains of industry and commerce, senior public officials and ethnic community leaders.

In spite of this highly intensive interactive community life, he has not lost himself culturally. His core values, formed in his youth in Malaysia, have remained with him. A bulwark in his early years in the slipstream of a weakening White Australia ethos, his “Asian values” perspective has enabled him to chart the waves of the sociological changes engulfing him, without being drowned by the current. Being able to be an integral part of his essentially Western environment without losing his connections with his own traditions, and always being aware of his ancestral values, he can straddle the cultures merging in the new cosmopolitan Australia. 

His first 4 books (viz. ‘Destiny Will Out,’ ‘The Karma of Culture,’ ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity,’ and ‘The Dance of Destiny’) led to a senior academic reviewer to state that they represented a sliver of Australia’s post-war history. That is because, since his arrival in Australia in 1948, he has lived through the worst demonstrations of the White Australia policy, in particular, the eventually-failed effort by the then Minister of Immigration to deport Mrs. Anne O’Keefe and her family back to Indonesia.

His own experience of an Australian ‘ignoramus’ seeking to protect ‘white British space’ stolen from the Aborigines was to be attacked in public thus in early 1949; ‘Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?’ In early 1950, a fellow student said to him, ‘I don’t mind you, but I do not many more like you in my country.’ In the mid-1950s, he was too black to be employed as a psychologist (he had qualified as a research psychologist in the University of Melbourne); a little later, when he had qualified as an economist, “the Australian worker is not ready for a foreign executive” (said to the Head of Melbourne University’s Graduate Employment Unit).

In the late 1970s and in the mid-1980s, much effort, including some unethical conduct, was spent to prevent him remaining in the Senior Executive Service in the federal public sector (if he had succeeded, he would have been the first foreigner at that level). He had been on higher duties, however, for almost a year in each of 2 government agencies, without complaint or criticism from anyone. It is difficult to counter a WASP or a religio-political ‘tribal.’

At another level, in spite of the non-discriminatory immigration entry policy of the 1970s, there remained a relatively closed entry door for applicants from the Indian sub-continent. The 2001 Census showed that the majority of Asians in Australia had arrived from East Asia, and that the majority of the Asian immigrants had claimed to be Christians.

Another reviewer said this in relation to a book which was not published.

“ … what I liked about the style of writing is its unpredictability. The author cannot be read as belonging to any particular intellectual ‘tribe’.  Overall, it is very stimulating and different to other pieces of social commentary written in this country. That is its real strength.”

“… in many ways, it is an immigrant addition to that style of social commentary practiced by Conway and Horne……..but the author’s ‘outsider’ status gives him the insights that they lack.”

Non-publication was to avoid unwarranted controversy. The key issues were, however, woven into his other books. The purpose of publication was to inform, not to antagonise.

Since the spirit realm had brought him to Australia, he saw his role in life as building bridges. Indeed, he began writing his books only in response to a suggestion from the spirit of his uncle that he “could seek to contribute to building a bridge” from where he came to where he is. His own settlement experience and his work (over 9 years) on all the policies relating to the integration of immigrants enabled him to write his books and (later) many articles for publication. (Refer ‘The Dance of Destiny,’ his 4th book, and ezinearticles.com)

His message to newly-arrived immigrants and others: Ignore oral expressions of intolerant ignorance; but challenge significant acts of discrimination such as denial of equal opportunity. He himself had been unable to counter racial discrimination (skin colour and being ‘foreign’) and tribo-religious discrimination (Mass-related ‘not one of us’).

Yet, he bears no grudges. His experiences reflected the ethos of the white Christian supremacy of his time. Time and the human spirit do, however, bring desirable change. Australia is on the road to the Family of Man!

 

More about ‘Destiny Will Out’ by Raja Arasa RATNAM

The author ends ‘DESTINY WILL OUT: the experiences of a multicultural Malayan in White Australia’  (published October 1997.  Out of print.  Ebook available from Amazon Kindle Direct) with this expectation: Without any interference from priests and politicians, the youth of a wide mixture of ethno-cultural Australians will evolve into an integrated nation, ignoring differences in skin colour and upheld by the nation’s traditional ‘fair-go’ ethos.

Imagine a lightly-coloured Ceylonese Malayan boy, brought up in a British territory (but who had not experienced any discrimination), where the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-coloured people co-existed with mutual tolerance. He entered Australia in 1948 as a fee-paying student at the prestigious University of Melbourne.

To his disgust, he observes a roaring sectarian religious divide, a colonial mentality, and racism. He faced discrimination in service in shops, finding accommodation, and seating on public transport. He was described as a blackfellow (there being no other term in the local lexicon for coloured people other than the indigene). In a fashionable arcade, in spite of being expensively dressed, he was loudly asked “Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?,” in a very aggressive tone. He did wonder at such ignorance, thinking that a similar question should have been addressed to Cook & Co, the white invaders, when they had arrived to dump the products of Britain’s cultural cleansing.

This was White Australia in the 1950s. Yet, this coloured lad eventually reached the rank of Director in the federal public service, becoming responsible progressively for each of the immigrant settlement policies offered through the then Department of Immigration & Ethnic Affairs during the 1980s. However, he suffered discrimination even within that department – both racial and tribal (the word mass had a weighty influence with the ‘tribals’).

This book weaves fluidly his settlement experiences with his work experiences, in a readable manner, with no bitterness. What was encouraging were the endorsement from senior academics, a number of private agencies, and a variety of immigrants and others. Although out of print, copies of the book can be found in the National Libraries of Singapore, Malaysia and Australia and the State and Territories Libraries of Australia, as well as the top 20 Australian universities.

This book is highly relevant in the light of claims in the 2010s by some ethnic community leaders that racial discrimination legislation is necessary to protect immigrants from being hurt and humiliated by oral insults. Strangely, the initially unwanted non-English speaking European immigrants and the English-speaking Asian students did not get excited by ignorant White Aussie yobbos mouthing off in an effort to protect white British space. As yobbos are endemic, we just ignored them. We did not feel victimised. I say this from my extensive contacts with immigrants.

A relevant review

 Destiny Will Out: The Experiences of a Multicultural Malayan in White Australia by Raja Arasa Ratnam is an interesting book that will give readers a glimpse into the life of Asians living in Australia. The author narrates his personal experiences along with his life and adjusting to Australian life and culture. The author’s observations on Australian life as an immigrant and his perception give the book a genuineness and honesty that readers will appreciate. The humaneness and the concern enable readers to grasp the author’s feelings, emotions, and experiences.

I found the book very fascinating because it exposes readers to a totally new way of life in a foreign land; the author’s comments and opinions are strongly expressed, making the narration more effective. The book also tells readers about the extensive research the author has done on topics relating to tribal population, ethnicity, and other details regarding the culture of Australia.

The perception about Asian children and their education in Australian society is quite an interesting fact and he speaks about racism, the existence of colonial mentality, and the discrimination he was subject to as a student at university. But what makes the book likable is that it has been written with no malice or bitterness and just as the author’s experiences as an immigrant. A heartwarming story that connects well with honesty.” – “Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite 5 stars

 

 

Relating to our Creator

Growing up in a devout Hindu immigrant family, I attended a Pilleyar (Ganesha) temple with my family frequently. We also prayed each evening before dinner, in our curtained prayer space, to the deities of relevance to us.

I was taught that the deities we prayed to were manifestations of the one and only God of mankind, who is unknowable, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; and who (hopefully) may intervene in our lives at crucial times. Hence the prayers and (as I see it) the appeasements through rituals. We lived our faith, while we reached out to our Creator. I do not remember being taught to blame God for any mishap in our lives.

As we survived in a territory away from our homeland, we were surrounded by significant numbers of diverse mainly-immigrant ethno-cultural populations. Both host people (Muslim Malays) and immigrants from a variety of Asian lands co-existed harmoniously, accepting that we were on different paths, but with the same objective, to the same end. Only white Christian missionaries, collecting souls for Christ, introduced some dissonance.

Yet, the diverse Christian sects within our tribal community were integrated with the rest of us. That is, both within and beyond our people, there was mutual respect, while the families socialised. Faith in God, expressed through a range of religious beliefs, sustained us.

The reality of Earthly existence is that, in most parts of the world (including the UA), life is hard, if not precarious, for the bulk of us. Most of us need a belief in available cosmic succour. We need to pray in hope that hardship can be minimised, if not avoided. We need to pray when things go wrong in our lives. We will pray while we are being submerged by forces beyond control or amelioration. What else can we do?

Disasters are a fact of life, and a test of faith. Can mankind survive without faith? The well-fed may feel so. Church attendances in Australia so suggest.

On this rocky orb spinning through space, accompanied by fellow space objects small and horrendously huge, and flooded and flushed by cosmic radiation, … … …

To struggle on or lie down

Life, by its very nature, has its ups-and-downs (to coin a thought). The rise and fall of one’s chest, reflecting breathing; the rise and fall of waves, reflecting the push and drag of Nature’s forces; the lift of hopes and the dash of reality, reflecting the laws of chance, or even of destiny in both its personal and collective garbs; all these suggest that what goes up will come down (except possibly for the spy-satellites circumambulating over us).

When we are down (say) by ‘falling off a cliff’ when on one’s life path – whether by one’s own folly, or by chance, or by one’s personal destiny – what can then happen?

Succeeding probable scenarios are:

  • Muttering or screaming “Ah, woe is me!” “What have I done to deserve this?” Or other words to indicate the unfairness of the event.
  • Thoughts arise which accept the lack of any possible remedy or solution – in the worst of circumstances. For example, were I to find myself at the bottom of a very deep well, with no chance of even a skerrick of sunlight reaching me, while I am like a slug patrolling the perimeters of the bottom of the well; would I eventually stop – to die? Or, wait for a miracle – as I did in my youth?
  • Girding one’s loins (metaphorically), one decides to work one’s way up – to survival. This effort requires the personality of fighter.
  • A miracle does occur. Circumstances change. A pathway (perilous, of course) somehow becomes a dim possibility.
  • Survival then ensues when the Cosmos (through the spirit realm) decides to help.

Thus, when one is down, survival does depend upon a fighting spirit, plus outside assistance or guidance. Or else, lie down and wait for the next Earthly life!