In Malaysia, most people will take off their shoes and wash their feet before entering the house or the temple. This is to avoid dirts dirtying the house or the temples (as sacred and pure places). This is also to show respect to the people who live in the house. We are usually bare-footing inside our house. This has became an automatic behavior for most people.
But in most business centres, shops, schools or offices, we do keep the shoes on. There are many Malay's shops still keep this tradition of "No shoes in the shop". And we would and we should respect this traditional culture.
One day, I went to a photo shop in Pantai Cenang near our house to photocopy some documents.
It has been a very long time since the last time I went into this shop (more than a year ago).
I saw many pairs of shoes in front of the entrance of the photo shop and some people are inside the shop waiting to have their photos print out and to photocopy their documents.
Without any doubts I took off my shoes and stepped into the shop. Immediately my feet could feel the dirts on the floor. But I didn't bother about it. It's not surprised that there would be sand and dirts on the floor because here is a beach area. Sand would follow our feet and came into the shop.
I found a chair to sit down and wait for my turn. It was quite busy in the shop then.
Well, I could still barely remember that when the last time I was there, I didn't have to take off my shoes. Out of curiosity I started to look at the photo shop's owner's feet to see whether he had his shoes on or not. Well, he did had his shoes on.
But then I had another thought that maybe he was wearing a separate indoor shoes for working in the shop. And so, I went out and take a quick look at the door and the wall in front the shop to see whether he had a sign board stating like "Please take off your shoes" or "Please remove your shoes before entering" or "Barefoot inside" and etc...
I found no signs at all.
And so, I wore back my shoes and went in again, and sat down.
I continued to observe some more customers that came into the shop. No matter they were Chinese, or Malay, or even foreigner, they all took off their shoes automatically before entering. There were more shoes outside the door then.
This had shown that how many people would show respect to other people's culture, and also how many people are being very nice and obeying the rules in this Malaysian society. This is nothing wrong. But there's another thing here for us to reflect is, human beings are imitating creatures and easily being influenced by other people's behavior...
No body and no sign board was there to tell anyone to remove their shoes, but everyone would automatically removed their shoes just because they saw other people's shoes were outside the door. And we would think, "Okay, seems like no shoes are allowed inside, I need to remove the shoes before entering the shop then."
It all begun with the first person who took off the shoes (I guessed this person must have the habits to remove shoes before entering any buildings). And then the next person and all other people would automatically followed this same action to show respect to the culture. This is one of the patterns of the human's behavior or mind's reaction.
When it was my turn for photocopy my things, I took the chance to ask the shop owner whether it was a new rule now that shoes are not allowed in the shop? He smiled and shook his head saying that there is no need to take off the shoes to come into the shop. Because if it was a new rule, then I would apologized to him and leave my shoes outside the shop then.
Well, maybe I was the odd one there to reason should I do as all other people are doing (even though at the beginning I took off my shoes when I saw there were many shoes outside the door, to show respect to the shop owner for keeping his shop clean).
I guess, lots of people will think, "Well, since majority people are doing the same thing, then it must be something right and good for us then... And we should follow what most people are doing."
This is what happening in our society nowadays, isn't it? There are lots of violence, crimes, hatred and killings everywhere in the world now...
When one person points at a man and shouts out loud in a big crowd, "Hey! That man is a rapist and a murderer! He is evil!" Some people would start to react and spread the words from mouth to mouth, and everyone might start to believe that this man is really evil and get fired up (since everyone are also talking about it, it might be true then), and might be beating up this man to death even before reasoning about the truth...
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