how now our souls?….

I have been very concerned of late, on where things might take us (see “are some people more equal than others”..)…  Must all things be only commercially weighted?  What do we give up for progress?

A  comment from 2Cents to that same blog, led to a discussion on the state of our “soul”. (2Cents, I hope you don’t mind me referencing this.)

I hope you will read the discussion thread on that entry so this will be more meaningful … but a summary of the comments as follows:

  • Shortly after reading about “assisted suicide” and comments on the future of healthcare, wondering if it were a sign of things to come and what that speaks of us and our values, I read about a curriculum to introduce “soft” arts to students.  As I understand it, it is to inculcate “soul”?
  • I thought at first, “soul” in its wholistic sense, but 2Cents in his second comment, suggested a narrower definition of “soul” as in the “music-in-me” variety..  As in perhaps, arts equals to soul.
  • Though even with that as a basis, the “soft” arts approach is still somewhat simplistic.  For instance, soul music has its roots and was born of the more complex shared struggles and experiences of black slaves.  Soul music, including gospel music has deep roots from a dark past.  It was the music of the courageous spirit of the “free” from people physically bonded by slavery.
  • So can we simply dance, drum, draw, “diva” our way to a soul?
  • Surely it’s more complex than that.
  • I think the soul is born of a sum total of the insights of the mind, heart and spirit, ie: it is the sum total of all our learning, beliefs and value systems, interactions and experiences that shape us as humans.
  • This according to 2Cents, ultimately translates to a gracious individual and beyond that a gracious society.
  • Can it be taught?  Can it be manufactured?
  • What inspires?
  • What takes away from it?  For example, if we interact only from the calculations of the mind and make decisions on only what is practical and what has the best returns, what does that make us? 2Cents has a humourous yet profound take on this, from the analogy in his last comment to the blog … 😀 

But seriously, what are we made of?  What have we become?

In trying to look for a definition of “soul” for this blog, I chanced upon the visual map below, from the Visual Thesaurus.  It weaves a web around the matters of the soul.  But what is reflected here, is still static… go to the site and see the thinkmap for yourselves.

Click on the thinkmap on the right side of the page and you will see each item of each facet of the soul weave a web of life all its own.

I guess you might see the point I am trying to make.  Nothing is as simple.  We can’t simply breathe soul into someone through arts alone.  We can’t mass produce souls.  And the lack of it does not happen overnight.  Every decision, every action, every interaction contributes to what we become.   And I hope we don’t get to the point of no turning back.  That we will never become morally bankrupt.

We cannot forget where we came from.  We need to think about where we are now, how we got here and through whose hands.  Never mind the politics, environment or the race, just do it for us.  As humans. 

We used to sing a hymn in school:

Little drops of water, Little grains of sand

Make a mighty ocean and a beauteous land

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,

Make our earth an Eden, like the heaven above.

I would like to finish this by repeating what I wrote in my comment thread to 2Cents in my previous entry.  I don’t think the person I write about knows how far reaching his one single, seemingly simple deed went, but it certainly left an indelible mark on me.

 … 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 dais 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.

So what are we made of?  Where would we like to go?… “how now your soul?…


One thought on “how now our souls?….”

  1. What is a soul? I guess it is the immaterial part of humans. Just as the people in an organisation gives it a soul, what gives each person a soul?
    It is probably more than the sum of its parts. We live in a matrix world but organisations tend to be organised in silos. When decisions are made by silos pursuing their own independent priorities, there is no resonance. In some cases, it becomes interference and mayhem ensues. Allow me to give a simplae example….
    Let’s say I run a small shop selling groceries. How can I make it successful? Without going into an exhaustive list, some of the factors are location of shop, cost of rental, traffic volume, sales volume, quality of goods, quality of people working in the shop, quality of buyers (procurement), profit margin, range of products (e.g. branded products or generic products), etc. Each of these factors will probably impact the success of the shop, but in varying degrees. If this is the complexity of a grocery shop, imagine the variants for a larger organisation or country. Hence my comments about campaigns….they are mere one dimensional approach to meet someone’s KPI for the year.
    I love the Mr Toh Chin Chye story. Clearly, he put himself in the shoes of those in the parade. This was the generation of leaders who inspired others with their actions. That generation of Singaporeans were a different breed. Perhaps it is the humble background they came from, hence were tougher. Somehow, over the years, things have changed. To provide an analogy, when I was a kid, we climbed trees and crawled through drains. Today, parents send their children to enrichmant classes like “Tumble Tots”. For the uninitiated, children come to these centres to crawl and climb obstacles on a cushioned floor and an air conditioned environment. This artificial environment has disconnected them from the real world. I know children who think chickens come from a supermarket instead of a farm, and milk comes in tetrapacks.
    How now our souls?…what soul……

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