Any anniversary is associated with happiness. This can be true for birthdays, wedding anniversaries or even for friendship. Even the anniversary of death is celebrated by some people in our society.
Why should we be happy for any anniversary as it is only the completion of the earth orbiting the sun. Whether what happen to our lives, marriages or friendships, the natural routine will continue.
To be happy or not over any anniversary should be about how far things had moved in the right direction. Have our life improved? What are the state of our marriages now compared to the past years? Have our friendships became better? These questions are not easily answered unless we reflect on them and have clear comparisons between the past and present. Have we achieved all targets set or some of them remained out of reach? What standards should be use to gauge success?
When it comes to a country, the measures to be used in such assessment would be more challenging to select. On quality of life, who should be the benchmark, those living in Bangsar and Sri Hartamas or those living at PPRT flats? On the state of Islam, do we use the Shariah Index conceptualised by JAKIM or we measure the losses incurred by public institutions governed by Muslims as our measure of progress or otherwise? In terms of culture, fairness and justice, do we use collective values based on logic or we stick to religious prescription?
Perhaps this is the reason why celebration of independence in many countries come with public holidays. Citizens will have time to reflect whether there are reasons to be happy and celebrate or their nations had rolled backwards. However, many countries organise fireworks and entertainment at the eve of independence days. Certainly those who frequent these celebrations would go home late, have a long and deep sleep and have little time to reflect. For those who are not sleeping in the morning, there would be further events showcasing assets bought using public funds. These assets are like castles, nice to see but they are never our homes, deceiving.
Hence, it would be much easier to assess out own contributions towards nation building and giving meaning to independence. How much of our efforts contributed to the well being of the society at large? It would be unfortunate if our individual wealths based on the transgressions occurring at public institutions. Do we belong to the group which are demanding and pressuring without much efforts beyond that?
I would like to wish all Malaysians happy Merdeka and please use the long weekend to reflect on what we had achieved and what more to be done to make this country a better place for everyone.