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….

  1. Some of us accept the claims of others without giving their presenting arguments sufficient thought … (ie who gives a s… what Gallup/Bloomberg says? )
  2. Some of us are not in touch with ourselves – our feelings, our perceptions, our mindset, our values, our identity…
  3. 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!

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