By Dr R G Eli
The recent Gallup/Bloomberg article re Singaporeans and their purported lack of feeling provides excellent motivation for some careful thinking…..(“Singapore Confronts An Emotional Deficit” , by Einhorn, B & Chen, S dtd Nov 20th 2012)
There have been varying responses – some accept Gallup’s pronouncement as objective truth, some agree with it from the perspective of their own experiences, and others disagree along similar lines.
Then again, some have questions about the survey – was the sampling sufficient to support the conclusion? Did the questions accurately and sufficiently connect with our mindset and our culture?
Expatriates and other non Singaporeans have also shared their responses about their Singaporean context and the folk around them. You all are welcome to your opinions, thank you very much.
But the Singaporeans – those who responded and those who did not – who have thought that this is an accurate claim because of how they themselves felt about it….that is alarming!
Why? Because they have not realized that their ability to respond, in and of itself, clearly demonstrates their capacity for feeling and self expression!
So - what conclusions can we draw when we find that some Singaporeans are unable to recognize their own capacity for feeling and their own ability to express themselves?
Some possible avenues to walk down are….
- Some of us accept the claims of others without giving their presenting arguments sufficient thought … (ie who gives a s… what Gallup/Bloomberg says? )
- Some of us are not in touch with ourselves – our feelings, our perceptions, our mindset, our values, our identity…
- Some of us cannot express that which we feel, to the extent that we question our capacity to experience feeling…
There is more, but this is enough to start with. Why?
Because these issues are critical for a Country’s development of its citizens, and cannot be over simplified. Getting them right demands review and revision of various aspects of our educational philosophy, across the entire educational spectrum , evaluating the motivating philosophy involved and its goals per its current methodology.
Equally important will be the study of family culture and its goals, values and practicing habits for child development, over the last twenty years or so! Further, this effort will tie in with the current project of having a national conversation about what we think we should look like years from now – perhaps not so much through a focus on Singapore as a Country, but instead, on the make up and composition - the hopes and dreams, the fears and anxieties….. the identity - of the average Singaporean!
Economic prosperity is never an end in itself for human beings. It is not meant to be that. In our case it points to an eminently successful beginning - one that took years to achieve, and one that we can be justifiably proud of, given where we were when we first started and realizing how much ground we have since gained! Now comes the challenge to move forward ……and the larger context demands an answer to the question of “What does it mean to be human?” and the follow up question of “What does it mean to be Singaporean?” ie a common humanity shared by a common nationality…this is the individual and subsequently corporate challenge – of self perception, self understanding, and self presentation! We have much work to do! That is what the next two decades demand!