People find thinking and examining things critically inordinately difficult, and yet it is these things that give rise to the ideas that drive culture. History has shown that the culture of a nation reflects the current philosophies of the times: Beethoven lived in the Romantic era, where emotions, feeling and senses took centre stage; consequently, his works are all expressions of his personal feelings and beliefs, and one cannot deny the contributions of his works to German culture.
Culture arises only when there is a significant Zeitgeist within a nation that propels its geniuses to express it with their creative works. So long as current Orders hinder significantly these geniuses and/or the formulation of certain ideas and philosophies, there will be no culture, and then there will be no nation. This further disadvantages a country, whose peoples are not naturally predisposed towards critical thinking and original thought. I’ve already shown that the materialist and rigid conservative mindsets hinder the creative process significantly; our artistic entrepreneurs are therefore the worst off.
The current economic situation does not help. Singaporean artists, more so out of necessity than by choice, are part-timers, for they cannot survive on their art alone. Singapore is simply too small. Those who do take up the arts, much less go into it full-time, would invariably face a great deal of rigidity, comprised of the conservative/materialist mindset: Singapore is too small, therefore you can’t survive; being a doctor/lawyer/pilot/engineer pays more and is more high class; why bother being an artist if nobody appreciates your work; this is so controversial that it better not be published; you are censored for having this and that; and so on and so forth.
Business-minded entrepreneurs need not face these problems; they could even be boosted by the State’s official encouragement of such people. Therefore, it is the artist who faces the most difficulty in doing what they do best, for the future survival of a country, by creating some intangible thing that has no immediate material manifestation, or at least a significant one. He faces the hardest task, and, most probably, he must go it alone. His struggle is the most difficult, and yet, it could well be the most rewarding, both to himself and to the nation.
The success of an artist, however, cannot be understated. It is he who ultimately defines the culture of his country, and thereby his nation. The business entrepreneur complements this, by ensuring that his country grows economically. As stated earlier, the future of nations, Singapore especially so, in this globalised society rests on these entrepreneurs.
They must have a sufficiently strong will to power to overcome rigidity; they must be creative enough to break new ground; they must be passionate about their work; they must be risk-takers; they must be unafraid to fail.
Before these entrepreneurs can rise to glory, they need to be able to overcome the current materialistic/conservative mindsets, if only within themselves. After overcoming themselves, they would find that surpassing other forms of rigidity to be an easier-than-expected task; from there, they set forth to exercise their creativity.
But can Singapore produce such people? That is the question for another essay.
About the author: The writer is a seventeen-year-old Junior College pupil who specialises in philosophy, politics, social issues, spirituality and thriller writing, the last in both print and online media. He also thinks too much for his own good.