are some people more equal than others?…..

Can everything be looked at as a commercial decision?

How do you equate a life to numbers? Have more kids if you can afford it. “Afford” in what sense? Only financially? Well obviously, that’s not working. As those who can afford it are looking at it in terms of time. Quality of life. Losing out at work. Not being able to run for promotions….etc.. In spite of the incentives, there are voices and rumblings asking for more.. What’s in it for me? Isn’t that what we are trying to avoid? Looking at giving life from a commerical perspective. It should be a national service, besides doing it for love, for the intangible gain.

Is it the same side of the coin and shouldn’t the same principle apply, when we hear thoughts such as “healthcare needs to be commercially managed” being espoused. There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition for products and services; Like servicing a car. But healthcare is about servicing a life. And the scary carry-through of that kind of thinking is “I fight for business that brings me the best ROI”.

I am a slow thinker. But what is slowly forming in my mind, is that it could ultimately mean, what ROI returns can you get from the poor?

Will it ever get down to “consult doctors if you can afford it?”. If not, do think about dying gracefully and graciously. Please don’t make it difficult because you need to understand that healthcare cost is so high. What quality of life would there be as a vegetable anyway?

When you are younger, the sense of mortality or sickness or affordability doesn’t quite hit you. So when my uncle once told me, it’s best that you die, when you are old and sick and poor. I didn’t quite get it at that time. But I am beginning to see where that thinking is coming from.

His was a hard life. And saying more would be desecrating his memory. But having done what he could within his ability and means to raise a family, he was pretty much left dependent when he was older. It is not easy to live and wait for handouts… even if your children do it, not only out of a sense of obligation but out of love. So when he was sick, he was open to being “taken home”, when it was time.

What he is feeling might be magnified by time I get to that age. And my CPF and savings dry up. My healthcare insurance is depleted.

Then maybe I should die? Which is in itself flawed, if we considered religion at all and that there is Someone bigger than ourselves. Life is not in our hands. It is God’s to give and to take away. So do we play God when we start thinking:

– I am sick, time to die
– I am sick. Can I afford the sub specialists’ treatments? Stop treatment. Time to die
– I am sick. My children can’t afford to take care of me with their own burdens. They need to take care of their young. Don’t seek medical treatment. Time to die
– I am sick. Society does not now cater to the old and infirmed. It is commercially reasonable. Time to die
– I am sick. Stand in queue for social welfare. What?… you have an HDB flat over your head? You should be able to afford healthcare. But you can’t. Time to die
– I am sick. I never listened and never got married. No kids to support me in my old age. Time to die

Thankfully, in my perception of a future that could be merciless (especially to the old and old and infirmed), I have a merciful God. I have seen His hand at work with many of His people. When time came, either money drying up, or families have reconciled, or whatever lessons have been learnt (by the sick and healthy), he took His people home. OR, He miraculously healed those on the brink of death. It is true. There are limitations to modern medicine.

Even if you can afford it, I wonder if it will come to a point where the decision then would be, which patient, if healed, could contribute more to society. That’s scary, isn’t it?

So then it could still be encouraged that the old and rich, choose to die too and this type of thinking could be the norm:

– I am sick. I can afford it. But medical science has its limitations. Time to die

Or a fad:

– I am sick. I can afford it. But I will enjoy the remainder of my shortened life and take the “Tourist Suicide” route

I know there is a God who is sovereign over all things. But my life now is on this earth. To see the possibility of a callous world turning its back on those who have contributed to our own growth and who now need us, is all very disconcerting.

I know some sensible decisions have to be made about the rising cost of healthcare. And yes, I agree preventive measures should also be a personal discipline and responsibility; but I pray we do not go down that route, where we eschew our old because they are no longer useful. 😮

One last thought, for now… I wonder if proponents of this type of thinking, apply the same principles to themselves? Will they choose to die, when their time comes, knowing their own sense of mortality? Will they apply this to their loved ones? Will it be so cut and dry as to whom to save and who to let die?

Or are some people more equal than others?…..

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3 thoughts on “are some people more equal than others?…..”

  1. Having soul should be about graciousness, not “soul” as in those demonstrated by talented “brothers” in New Orleans. Being cultured is not about whether whether we listen to classical music, attend dramas and festival of arts. Believe me, I know people who are so into all this you would think they are cultured….but they are horrible human beings….totally selfish and full of themselves.
    A gracious society needs to be nurtured. I have often wondered why the Japanese, despite their WW2 past are such a cultured and gracious nation….probably the most cultured and refined in Asia. They wear masks when they have a flu so they do not pass it to others….we cannot even get our people to wear masks when H1N1 was around ! The public toilets in Japan are so clean…over here, we still tolerate dirty toilets despite our clean toilet campaign…and toilet operators charge 10 to 20 cents an entry with tissue paper being an optional extra….I often wonder if all I do is pee, does it cost 10 cents for the cleaner to clean up after me? … I don’t have such a bad aim 😛 …Ok, need to keep this Rated G, so I will not go further.
    Personally, I think we have unwittingly evolved a culture of WIIFM (What’s in it for me). As an example, years back, in order to encourage recycling, some genius (or genii) came up with a machine where you drop your cans and pull a lever like a jackpot machine. There was a chance to win a prize. That is not evolving a culture but merely forcing the behaviour by dangling a carrot. What an insult to the human species.
    There is an annual raft race (or there used to be) at the Singapore River where participants are supposed to use recycled material to build their raft and race it along the river. Some teams do that, but the majority who win the race buy new material, build the raft (or boat) and who knows what happens to them after that…..I suspect most of it ends up in a land fill somewhere….so much for recycling, unless ending up ina land fill is recycling….hmmm…if it is used to reclaim land, I guess it could qualify…hahahahaha…
    I realise that there is no easy solution. However, education is the key, not incentives to change short termed behaviour. Sad that most KPIs are measured by such termed behaviours which produce short termed results.
    Allow me to share an analogy. In animal training, the concept of reward is used to reinforce behaviour. e.g. when a dog jumps in the air and catches a freebie mid flight, the owner gives him a treat. Do you think the dog enjoys catching the frisbee because it is his passion in life? Surely not….he is only after the treat….in a way, it is a way to put food in the stomach. Some policies in society are no better……it’s a dog’s life 🙂

  2. I recall not long ago when there were campaigns espousing the values the older generation could impart to the younger generation. There were heartwarming adverts on the television showing grandparents interacting with their grandchildren. It has become strangely quiet and now there is this stuff out there about realising our own mortality and that it is a commercial decision…..sigh. Perhaps this was just another campaign that has out-lived its usefulness….like the stop at 2 policy. I could go on about campaigns…essentially I find them extremely short sighted and focusing on immediate fads.
    Agree with your point that the older generation has contributed to our country. In fact, everyone has, in some way. Even the less able contribute to our experience by enriching us in some way. Let me share a personal anecdote.
    I drive past a special school along Margaret Drive each morning. I see parents walk their children to the school gate, which is manned by a teacher who gives them a big bright smile and exchange breetings with the parents before ushering the child into the school. The children are intellectually challenged.
    In start contrast, about 1 km along the same road is a regular school. There is no smiling teacher at the gate but a security guard directing traffic. There are also prefects recording the names of children who are late for school….somtimes, I see a stern looking adult at the gate…probably the discipline master.
    I have friends who are parents to special children and when I interact with them, I see a big difference in their outlooks. Parents of regular children tend to talk about how cute or clever their child is, how well they are doing in school, etc. They dote on their children in a more selfish manner. Parents of special children seem toi focus more on the quality of the interaction with the child and tend to be more community focused. They are involved in community work such as raising the awareness of children with special needs or other social deeds. They have admirable emotional strength and spirit of giving.
    By spirit oif giving, I do not just mean just donating money to various causes. They spend time and effort with these causes. I believe the experiences with their special children has enriched their lives many fold.
    Back to the issue at hand, if we become too commercially driven, we will unwittingly evolve a mercenary-type culture. One where anything can happen if the price is right. I hope they realise that decisions should be made based on a matrix structure. Using dollars and cents is a very one-dimensional approach to a complex issue.
    I learned this from my commanding oficer when I was in the army many years ago. “Never expect your soldiers to do what you would not do yourself” For those who are fortunate to be able to run on the inside track, I hope that they will not forget this.

    1. That’s it, 2Cents. You’ve hit the nail on the head. People forget. There is no memory whatsoever – not corporate, not social …. not, not, not….

      History has become what people choose to remember. Not what actually transpired. And if that’s further coloured by people on the inside track who might not have experienced a difficult life or challenging experiences, I fear we might run the risk of having decisions made from a very lopsided worldview.

      Why try to create “soul” with soft arts alone? Anyway, you do not dance or sing a soul into anyone. And why “create” at all something that should be innate and inherent? We learn through interactions and experiences with all we encounter, shaped by a good foundation of beliefs which give rise to good value systems.

      We need to be engaged. Not wired. And it starts from the top. Whether in familial relationships or societal. Why won’t we shape souls one experience and encounter at a time (not merely by institutionalised mass production) it may be slower but it is real:

      – Re-establish connections within multi-tiered close-knit families (what has to change for that?) that are involved in the lives of and moulding the young instead of leaving it to schools and teachers. There was a suggestion in today’s ST from a young adult that suggested a curriculum in school, to teach children to manage a household! Whose job should that be? 😮

      – Anyone in leadership – lead by example. Not by merely directing or delegating

      – Don’t expect VIP treatment all the time. Show by example your heart is with your constituents, employees, family … I remember being involved in the National Day Parade when it was decentralised. It poured!! – Rained cats and dogs while Dr Toh Chin Chye was on the dias at Jalan Besar Stadium, inspecting the parade. His minders came with an umbrella to shelter him but he gently pushed the umbrella aside. Just imagine what that did for the spirits of the cold, shivering participants who were standing at attention. For me, a then 14-year old, I just felt like my spine was “pulled” up to stand taller than ever. We stood at attention not only because we had to, out of respect. We respected him out of pride as he had shown by that one action, that he identified with us because he knew exactly what we were going through. And not what he learnt from data and statistics

      – Not do any more Kindness movements where we are kind once a year. Just be kind so the young can see how to treat people of influence and sweepers alike, with the respect every human being deserves

      – Don’t manufacture images. Just be human

      – Practise your beliefs and not only theorise it

      – Make decisions, not only from the perspective of dollars and cents or what’s practical alone but with considered measure for other intangible reasons as well, like the well-being of those the decisions apply to.

      The body is just our packaging (to put it in commercial terms). The soul, I think, is the sum of our minds, hearts and spirit. Neglect of any one of the entities, will stunt our souls. Stunted souls make for a stunted society.

      How now our souls?

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