I met up with my Godfather (not the mafia boss underworld kinda stuff though that would be a cool tale to tell). He was telling me about an article that he came across which was rambling about how amidst our modern and state-of-the-art infrastructure, Singaporeans lack soul. Are we just empty shells? Is that our culture?
I am currently fresh off college, with huge ambition and absolutely hopeful for the future. The advice he gave me is to seek for contentment from within.
It is easy to be helplessly absorbed into our society as we chase blindly for status, shiny condominium, posh cars, credit card subscriptions, branded clothes, exorbitantly priced meals, and these ‘external’ thingS (with an aggressive capital S) only leave us wanting more, and more, and even more without an end. These thingS blind us from the simple little pleasures in life. These thingS hurt relationships, and these thingS murder any spiritual aspect in us, and that’s when we become empty shells.
I recall my childhood growing up in the 90’s, when I was still living in my Grandma’s old HDB in Chinatown, where there was this sense of strong community spirit, or “人情味”. Our neighbours took care of each other and kids have fun playing block catching after school. Back then parents didn’t bother too much about shafting their precious little offsprings into top prestigious schools and cram their 5 year-old’s daily schedule with extra lessons and classes in pursuit of academic excellence just to ensure that they get a firm footing in this superficial and unhealthily competitive society that they have chosen to live in. Perhaps I was still naive and my innocence was still intact, while the world was already a place greatly misaligned with my humble imaginations.
Are Singaporeans happy? A higher standard of living doesn’t equate to a higher level of happiness. Growing up in Singapore I always thought that despite our geographical location, we are very heavily influenced by the western world. But coming back after having lived in London for two years, I realised we are not westernised at all. In terms of thinking, behaviour, and culture. We are certainly not as free-spirited, flexible, and ‘freedom of speech’? That’s still non-existent.
I hope our government can acknowledge that our generation is a different group of people. We read, we see, we think, we process, we analyse, and we don’t follow blindly. We seek for truth whenever there is a lack of transparency. The more we try to regulate and control the media, the more people will start to distrust it. We are not trouble makers but simply put, merely a population unlike the previously less educated generations. I don’t believe that suppressing the population is the only way to maintain stability. Any form of dictatorship will eventually force the birth of a rebellion. We have to rethink our old ways because Uncle Lee’s tried and tested formulas may no longer be applicable in this digital era where information is at our fingertips and economical cycles repeat unpredictably faster than ever. Be honest, don’t patronise us just to humour us for awhile, understand and get to the root of the problem.
Foreigners are here to do the jobs that we Singaporeans refuse to do. I don’t believe our foreigner construction workers, cleaners and helpers are stealing jobs of the locals. They are here to do us a favour. Of course, some of their behaviours can be questionable, but first of all if we were to be put into their position wouldn’t we hope to be respected too? It’s never fun to live as a second class citizen, giving them a different treatment will just make their life even harder and in turn, ours more miserable. If I could be a brick layer and make sufficient income to provide a comfortable life for my family I would, but buying a car is not even achievable because of the ridiculously sky-high COE and the inescapable ERP gantries.
To be fair, being the government is probably the hardest job, and working for a living in Singapore isn’t a piece of cake either. Government or citizen, why are we making life unpleasant for each other? Pride and ego are not important. When we forget about wanting to win in an argument or fight, we win more. We stop growing the second we think we are probably right all the time.
We all want to make this world a better place, but are we doing anything about it?
What is the price of freedom?