By Dr Eli R G
The “unfeeling Singaporean” does not exist! To be human is to feel. Further, only a set of survey questions written by Singaporeans for Singaporeans could ascertain anything about Singaporeans. So who cares what others say? Well, some of us got upset over that claim, wrote in about how upset we were, BUT FAILED TO REALIZE THAT OUR ABILITY TO WRITE IN DEMONSTRATED THAT WE HAD FEELINGS AND WERE ABLE TO EXPRESS THOSE FEELINGS! HOW COME SOME OF US LACK SELF AWARENESS?
To answer such a question, we have to backtrack, and start with our early childhood and youth experiences. These are formative – they “form” us – our “selves” , our “persona” , the way in which we see things, the ways in which we react and respond. They fix what we will be like. So, if some of us have to deal with issues with the perspectives we demonstrate, can we fix them?
- We must deal with our perceptive ability. Perception is a “lens” through which we look at the world – people, events, things that happen or might happen, to us and to others. Perception colors our judgment, our opinions, our positions, our statements…how did we each form our perceptive lens?
- We must deal with our feelings – when opinion, judgment, position and statement are colored, feelings come into play. The stronger the “coloring”, the deeper the feelings. Do we understand why we feel the way we do? Can we explain our feelings and the reasons for them? Do we realize how we relate to others because of the way we feel? The challenge is to understand what our formative influences are! And then to tweak them as needed… The old Greek Oracle at Delphi did not say “Know Thyself” for nothing!
- We must deal with our values and mindset – when we see / experience an event the question is always “What makes this a right or wrong/good or bad happening?” How do we arrive at a conclusion? What’s the reasoning ? What’s acceptable? What’s not? How much flexibility can we allow? As these elements grow and blend, identity and persona are sharpened.
A great childhood and youth results in a strong, confident individual. Doesn’t happen for everyone. So some of us struggle, and wonder what’s wrong with ourselves, not knowing that we have, partly or mostly, become the end result of what has happened to us as we have grown..In other words, when parents encourage and support their children as the kids grow, kids learn not to be afraid, to speak up for themselves, to defend themselves, and feel they are of value because their parents have valued them. This brings confidence. Of course, if it doesn’t happen, then the effect is reversed.
And the same applies to the social politics of any government that takes a paternalistic stance. It claims to be democratic, but makes decisions for the people, always of course for the good of the people. From that perspective, even nepotism can be claimed as being “for the good of the people”.
Such a scenario stunts the growth of the people , and of course the systems that pertain, like education, limit by default the critical levels that are made available to the people. All the people need is to learn obedience. Their skills need only be developed to the point of maintaining the sociopolitical status quo. Only those who learn to think outside of such systems are able to see these systems for what they are!
End result – great technologically advanced infrastructure is possible at the cost of heavily stunted individual growth. Freedom of expression has been curtailed, and so only a culture of imitation prevails. Let us do what the rest of the world is doing. Let us bring in their big names, and add value to our lives! That is the only way in which we can find meaning. Can we be ourselves? NO. We don’t quite know how.