Friday, August 02, 2013

National Day thoughts

V and I often joke about our generational gap. Though he is only older by 4 years, he grew up in a kampung, playing games of a much earlier era, chasing rabbits and chickens. On the other hand, I have only known the public housing flats that have since become an ubiquitous feature of Singapore life, while the kampungs vanished over fleeting decades. A person born during the time our country became independent would have seen such a transformation that it is as if he has entered a different world. Has life become better? Since Singaporeans have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, how can anyone not think so? I mean, we must be doing something wonderfully right if everyone is living to a ripe old age! 

Yet though our country has never been richer, a corrosive sense of cynicism and discontent seems to have pervaded the national spirit. The new National Day song, predictably, has been attacked by caustic criticism. Frankly, given the current mood, any masterpiece would have suffered the same fate. People are just angry and bitter, at war with their neighbours. Much has been said about our famed competitiveness leading to heightened stress and anxiety, yet dear friends, when we aren't fretting over things that are truly in short supply (like COEs), we are having epic rows over who deserves to buy more Hello Kitty dolls! Why create more angst for yourself than necessary? Maybe everyone secretly fears that he is missing out on something that his neighbour has. It is hard to be contented when everyone else seems to have so much more. 

Sometimes, on trips to the region, I wonder if what I am doing really generates value that is worth so much more than the work of the hotel staff serving us. Am I earning ten times their salary because I am ten times cleverer and ten times more hardworking? Much as I would like to think so, the truth is everyone who graduates satisfactorily here expects at least a middle-class lifestyle, by virtue of our birth into a wealthy society. And most of the time, it happens. But to take all these for granted, and then to demand more because others have more, is nothing short of covetousness. I really think that if we have lower expectations of how much we are entitled to, we would all be happier. And only then would we be able to enjoy the comforts that we can afford. 

1 comment:

Rabbits' Guy said...

Well by gosh, when you get that answered, you let us know. Most of ua wonder that too. (What's it all about, Alfie."