Saturday, March 17, 2007

Resume regular programming, unfortunately

The week and a half of silence wasn't due to any emotional upset or work stress. It was due to a much happier reason. We were away! Even though we could ill afford it, we'd decided that we really had to take a break and get the heck out of the country, even if it was just for a few days. And we did. Back to Melbourne. It's always easy going to Melbourne. We know the place, we know where to go eat. In short, nothing really changes in Melbourne, so it's always a little trip down memory lane there.

But then again, it wouldn't be totally fair to say that nothing's changed. We've changed, we've grown a little and we see more things. Some good, some bad, some that act as wake up calls. Being swaddled in Singapore by an efficient government, it's hard to not take things for granted. Even the simplest things. Yes, we have great issues with sand and water and all sorts of resources here in Singapore, but the average person here doesn't really see its impact. In Melbourne however, we noticed straight out that there was water shortage and water restriction. How? There wasn't a blade of green grass in sight. Public and private lawns were not allowed to be watered unless the water used was recycled, like washing machine water or bath water or something. So no sprinkler systems to alleviate the impact of the harsh southern hemispheral sun unfiltered by that darn hole in the ozone layer. Then we come back to Singapore, where the weather's equally intolerably hot and humid and I gaze in wonder at how green the grass of home is and realise that I've been spoilt.

Then there were the activists. On our last day there, we decided that it was high time to sign the socialist (hahah!) petition against George W. Bush's war effort. Heck, even if it was the Neo-Nazi, pro communist, Green Party (Please pol-sci people reading this, don't take this seriously!) petition, we'd still have signed it. After that, I commented to Packrat that it was strange that in Singapore, I wouldn't bat an eyelid swatting away people who came up to me to support causes that ranged from schizophrenia (I was once waylaid with a pretzel in my mouth though and had no way of swatting him off so that cause I donated to) to the elderly with Parkinsons. But there, I felt extremely guilty walking away from the make poverty history people and even more so when it came to the child labour people, so much so that I think I gave the child labour people all the change in my wallet and mind you, change there translates to quite a lot since coins come in both $1 and $2.

His reason was this. In Singapore, we've grown up with the mentality that we need to get ahead and look out for ourselves. And if we have the time and the resource, the more needy in our community. There, possibly one of the few good offshoots of the welfare system, it is the mentality that everyone had to look out for everyone else and they genuinely care for other people. This makes their committment to causes more heartfelt and sincere and makes it a whole lot more difficult to dismiss them without feeling like one has committed the ultimate sin and will burn in hell.

These realizations are not unrelated and neither are they new. So with the trip down memory lane also comes a refresher lesson in civic consciousness, the real way, not the farce that's taught in schools and public education campaigns here. And that's why it's important for us to get away everytime we can, to remind us that we live in a bubble, albeit a comfortable bubble, but a bubble nonetheless and there is a real world out there and we don't want it to go away even if we're too busy ignoring it most of the time here.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:14

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