Monday, June 29, 2009

Why do you weep at the death of a stranger?

I conclude that people treat the dead better than the living.

MJ died, and sparked off ostentatious demonstrations of grief throughout the world. Even our Hong Lim Park saw an inpromptu wake of some sort, where fans left flowers, little toys and notes. And to what purpose? Was it not the same man who was reviled for his increasingly bizzare behaviour, and whose every lurid detail was lapped up eagerly? The public seemed to have forgotten how they treated him when he was alive. Untimely deaths have the inexplicable power of canonising fallen stars.

But in the same way they devoured the father, the media is going after the children now. It pains me to see MJ's children walking through the gantlet of news vultures, their faces literally masked to protect them from the snapping cameras and intruding microphones. For goodness' sake, just leave them alone to grieve! Aren't there other sources of interesting news?

Why weep at the death of a stranger, when you treat the living so shabbily?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Big Project

It's so empty that you can hear your voice echo and reverberate through the house. Now we have the pleasant task of filling it up in the most attractive way possible. No interior designer for us, we are going to count on our good taste.

Wondering how much can go into this floor space:

The contractor was disappointed to see how well maintained our resale flat is. This means little work and money for him. Is this standard industry practice? He simply packed us off with a shopping list (go to Sim Siang Choon and Goodrich), and left us to figure out how to buy the correct items. So here we are, trying to measure the fixtures and feeling lost.

Friday, June 05, 2009

U O Me

Don’t you know that our government is very rich? The ministers enjoy such a high pay. You are rich too. You are able to enjoy a meal in the air-conditioned food court, while I go from table to table trying to get people to buy my tissues. So what if I grossly overcharge you? You are still rich, and I am still poor.’

I can’t help feeling that this is a common attitude among the poor people I encountered. It would be inhuman to accuse them of being spoilt, but there is always a sense of entitlement that I find baffling. A friend went to help distribute angpows to the residents in one-room flats, and he was asked why the fabulously rich Singapore Government gave a miserly $200 to each person. I suppose, it is only natural to feel that if others are feasting off the fat of the land, surely we too should share the largesse.

Don’t stone me for sounding like Mr. Scrooge. But beyond political correctness, why should the rich acknowledge any obligation to help the poor? Unless the rich have deliberately exploited and oppressed the poor, everyone is responsible for his own plight. Of course, life is unfair, and at some point in time, the course of our life leads us into certain circumstances. A few end up owning restaurants, some become waiters, and still others have to clean toilets. Why do the poor feel that the rich somehow owe them a moral debt because they have a better life?

Of course, no matter how the poor behave, we have the capacity to be generous. And we can afford to overlook the offensive attitudes displayed too. Hence, I still feel that no one should withhold help, just because the recipient isn’t reasonable or sufficiently polite. If nothing else, we can give because of the love of God. It is simply unfortunate that the pleasure of giving is somehow diminished. One never likes to feel taken for granted. Besides it is hard to satisfy the sense of entitlement. How much does one have to give before the aggrieved poor actually feel less deprived?

I can’t possible try to change how they see life, but they cause me to reflect upon my own attitude towards gifts – whether I receive them with a calculating eye or with thanksgiving. If I let go of my expectations, I allow myself to be surprised by blessings. Isn’t it a pleasanter way to give and to receive?