Change of heart, anyone?

My friend’s sister has been working overseas for the longest time after her graduation.  She has a conscience.  Much like most of us.  The only difference is we see injustice and either feel sorry for the victims, walk away or both or not; or try to help in our own little way by parting generously with money (which by the way is the most convenient for us so we don’t need to dirty our hands).

She, however, seeks out positions that allows her to go one step beyond pity.  She offers humanitarian aid by helping women who are unable to defend themselves with free legal aid, or helping earthquake victims through the NGOs, helping the less fortunate by being their voice, etc, etc….. I think that’s noble.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she, nor do I advocate that all should run now and work with NGOs. But it’s her observation of where we are going, that’s frightened me.

Her path has deviated very much from the normal Singaporean, who count the 5Cs necessary.  Where the material man overtakes the soul of a man.  Where the commercial bent dictates that KPIs and ROIs as the only justified measures of success. 

The Singaporean pre-occupation with success that is aligned only with how much money you have.  How much money you make.  Who you are in the food chain.  Being one up on the Joneses.

Most times, if we are close to something or someone and are exposed to them on a daily basis, change is not evident.  Like my relatives who do not see my dad for a long time would have said he lost weight and those of us who do, will say he’s put on.  Similarly, with attitudes and mindsets, we who live here, do not realise the changes we have undergone.  I guess it creeps up on us.  Driving for better performance is the buzz word – be it good grades instead of a good education or getting a good salary instead of a doing a good job etc… 

We don’t see it.  But my friend’s sister does, on her visits home  It’s not like she means that we should not strive to improve ourselves and to better our lives.  Or she goes around ranting and raving about this to all and sundry.  It’s her observation.  One I found out from my friend. 

I’ve been mulling about this for awhile.  Well now and then in my waking hours, since I heard it.  And sadly, I think she’s right.

We might have or hopefully, are only starting to lose the plot.   We are going the way of the capitalists where everything is measured in dollars and cents for I, me and myself.  

Don’t misunderstand.  I am not a communist either.  I believe in the intrinsic values of hard work, fending for myself and contributing to society.

But I think she has a point.  I think we seem to have strayed from what’s good to what’s right.  I believe we do need to balance between I and we.  The right of the individual and societal good.   Go back to values instead of merely looking at the cost and at what price.

Do you realise that close to our lips is how much and not how well?  Motivations even at the level of the family unit is always about how much and not about the values it inculcates.  Or at school, getting school kids to do volunteer work comes with the carrot of CIP points.  So it goes to the lowest common denominator (but most always the easiest way out, especially for tired, working parents – no tiresome screaming diatribes) – how much is it worth to you for me to do this and that?  Where does it stop? 

It can’t all stop.  Money in exhange of .. I mean.  We still need to get paid for doing a job, hopefully for doing a more than decent job.  So we can pay for goods and services bought.  So the economy keeps spinning.

But there are places, this should not carry across.  Have we crossed the fine line?  If we have, I hope it’s not too late to turn back.  One person, one family at a time.

If we don’t, that’s what we are unleashing into the world – greedy, mini mes.  That’s anarchy.

I think besides a revamped global financial system, what we need is a change of heart.


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