This is a two-part article to understand the real problem facing Singapore now and how we can overcome it. The second part will be published tomorrow.
The problem that Singapore faces now is not that we are in a transition. It is that we have forgotten. We have all forgotten.
On the one side, we have some who say to the others – “you are so ‘elitist’ and you care only for yourself”. On the other, we have Singaporeans who say – “you are too ‘comfortable’ that you no longer work hard enough for Singapore”. On both sides, we have Singaporeans calling out at each other, claiming that one has forgotten his roots, of Singapore’s struggles and that they are giving it all away. On both sides, we’ve relegated the other to ungrateful people who think only for themselves.
But yet, isn’t this what both sides say to the other. And if both sides are claiming the other selfish, who is right or who is wrong then? And if both sides are saying the same thing, then what are we bickering about?
It is perhaps sad that Singaporeans don’t realise that as we criticize the other, that we aren’t actually that different. On the surface of it, we’ve taken the symptoms to be the problem – so Singaporeans are too “comfortable” and we need to fix that. Or Singaporeans are too “elitist” and we need to fix that. But is that it?
Yet, perhaps what is most disconcerting is that we have learnt to point the finger at the other but we have forgotten to point the finger at ourselves – all of us are party to this.
We Think That We Are Better Than The Other
The problem in Singapore is this – we think that we are better than the other. Some might think – I have worked so hard for Singapore and now you are telling me that I am not doing enough for you. How dare you, you lazy bugger. And some might say – don’t you see what you are doing? Singaporeans are unhappy because you no longer care about them. At least I do! But who is right? Who is to say who has a better argument? Who has the better heart? The better argument is that which we choose to believe in, and for now, Singaporeans have drawn ourselves down the line – half of whom align themselves to one side and the other to the other side.
But our nation is divided. What good is there when in our bickering, we tear the nation apart?
The problem is we think that we are better than the other. We think that I have a better education and I have committed myself to Singapore – what have you done? We think that I care more for others and you do not – do you even care?
Yet, aren’t we saying one and the same thing – I am better than you. I know better than you.
So what if we might know what needs to be done for Singapore? So what if we think we care? So what, if amidst all these, what we really care about is ourselves and to pride ourselves? So what, if amidst all these, we want to protect our pride and take every offence at someone whom we think are trying to make us feel lesser?
But aren’t we all making each other lesser? Aren’t we all calling one another names and labeling another? It was an illegal protest. You don’t care. You just want our money. You are too comfortable. You are “lousy”. You have defamed me. You are slandering me. And this never ends. As we take potshots at one another, seeing who has the louder voice.
Amidst all these, we continue to think – it’s because I am better than you.
So, we might call our government elitist. And our government might think the people too comfortable? What is right? The truth is that the people in our government thinks that it’s better than the people. And the people think that they are better than those in government.
This battle of wits will never end if Singaporeans don’t realise this. This will not end if Singaporeans don’t stop and take a look at ourselves.
Singapore at the Crossroads: Economic Growth but Social and Psychological Growth?
The problem in Singapore isn’t that we are not contented, that we’ve learnt to let it all go to waste, that we don’t care about Singapore. No, it’s not.
The problem in Singapore is that as we’ve grown so fast economically, we have no time to stop and think about our lives and ourselves. We have learnt to keep pumping along that now, as we have reached a stage where we are wondering – where is all the money taking me to? – this is when we have finally stop to ask, what is it I want? What do I truly want?
This is why some Singaporeans have started to slow down to look at their lives and started to question – what is the life that I want? Is Singapore moving too fast ahead for me and for the people around me? Why are people so unhappy and angry? Why have we learnt to shout at one another?
Yet, the economy keeps chugging along, as those still chugging with it look at the others and ask – what are you guys doing derailing our economy? Have you started becoming too comfortable? We are doing this for you and you don’t want to come onboard with us?
So, who is right? Who cares for Singapore? One group might think – why are we moving so fast when we are leaving the rest behind? Look at our poor and elderly. The other group would say – but if we don’t move fast enough, we would not be able to take care of our poor and elderly! Beneath all the bickering, Singaporeans care for one another. We might believe differently about how to care. But we do.
The problem isn’t how we have decided to chart our ways differently. The beauty of life is that we are all different, isn’t it? The problem is that we’ve forgotten to look at ourselves.
For some, we have stopped and asked – but why are we unhappy? Why are we angry? Yet, we do not know the answer. For others, we haven’t stopped but keep going and we tell to the others – stop mopping around and being unhappy! Start doing something useful with your life and maybe you will become happier! What is common is that we know that Singaporeans are unhappy but we do not have the answer.