Monday, January 25, 2010

Do we believe in anything of value....?

Singaporeans have been faulted for being perhaps a bit too pragmatic. Pragmatic to a fault, and perhaps too mercenary in our approach towards many issues.

These faults have sadly been brought to the fore recently in discussions about our contribution to the Haiti effort, and then yesterday about our graciousness (or lack of)...

When responding to criticisms about how little we are monetarily contributing to the relief effort in Haiti, the gahment pretty much argued from a pragmatic point of view. And I am wondering why we need to cast everything in terms of realpolitiks, or look at potential economic returns in everything we do? Isn't doing the right thing, a good enough reason in itself? Isn't compassion a good enough reason in itself to want to reach out in a more substantive way to help a country in agony?

How about the discussion about the development of grace in our society? I couldn't believe the discussions reported in the Straits Times today, about the proceedings at the Singapore Perspectives meeting yesterday! An economic value to graciousness? Duuuhhhhhh........

Isn't being gracious important enough on its own merit, that we have to place a monetary value to it?

But these are not the exceptions in our national psyche...

We smile and try to courteous, not because these are worthy on their own merits, but because we want to improve our business rankings, and bring in the shopping $$$.

We are ethical, not because we think being ethical is important on its own merit, but because we want to be accredited and be recognized internationally, because it brings in the R&D $$$.

We try to be environmentally friendly, not because we genuinely want to save the world, but because of the economic value of being seen to be green.

So sad and tragic.

Singapore, what do we really believe in?


MM SZ said...

Thought-provoking. Linked, & will be 'blogger featured'. Thanks:)

gigamole said...

Thanks. Appreciate your dropping in.

Anonymous said...

we believe in $

Anonymous said...

"We are ethical, not because we think being ethical is important on its own merit, but because we want to be accredited and be recognized internationally, because it brings in the R&D $$$."

in other words, if you have no economic value to me, you can't be my spouse or even friend.

we all use each other and that's why i don't like people - in general LOL

auntielucia said...

Giga, wotever we may think of Singapore/Singaporeans, most of us at least are not hypocritical. We dare to show the skull beneath the skin where other people (esp the Americans) speak of ideals when basically it's still abt $$$$ in the end, but packaged so slickly that no one -- OK, few -- will dare to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Frankly, where Haiti is concerned, where was the world be4 the earthquake struck? Fr goodness sake, that country's been living with more than 70% of its population surviving on less than USD1 a day (as that's an average, many must have survived on less than that).

Apres the earthquake, every do-gooder has joined in the fray to do good, thus adding to the chaos when a more calm and collected approach might have been more effective and efficient.

gigamole said...

Whilst it is true that the Western posturings can often border upon the hypocritical, our own position need not necessarily be the polar opposite one, viz. cold, calculative and mercenary.

There is value to espousing noble values, even if we often fail and are not able to express them fully. To abandon them in favour of just material concerns/returns is I think, betraying our own humanity.

Sadly I think we too often do just that in Singapore.