Disclaimer: This article has nothing to with dollars and everything to do with sense, the following is one Singaporean’s (one of the writers from the DollarsAndSense team) take and is not representative of anyone nor everyone living in Singapore. No words put together can ever be.
Perhaps sometimes in life, we have to lose something before we realize the importance of what we lost. When we’re too comfortable we forget how that level of comfort was built in the first place, especially so when it was never taken away from us. The irony may be that with knowledge of what has past, it will weaken us even having grown stronger from the immediate aftermath. The problem of abusing the word ‘freedom’, the notion of replacing ‘responsibility’ with ‘freedom’ and the danger of using the words ‘truth’ and ‘freedom of speech’ interchangeably.
There is nothing scarier than allowing one’s beliefs to be the absolute truth. Because it shuts the doors to everything and everyone. Right now, in this age where the social media platforms have literally let loose an unstoppable (and perhaps, uncontrollable) number of ways and means for one to share just about everything and anything, the idea of freedom of speech has been plaguing me ever since. Over the years, I am disappointed and saddened by some of the hateful comments on Singapore by Singaporeans. Sometimes I question why the intense hatred on your own homeland for issues that simply needed more attention? Other times I ask myself why do I even bother reading these remarks, why did it matter to me? The extent of how unrelenting and cruel the internet community can be no longer mattered to me after this week.
Part of the generation that could understandably be disconnected from the hard work of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his comrades, I was born with the privilege of seeing the side of a strong and prosperous Singapore, and I have only heard and read about our country’s hard fought independence. I couldn’t explain why I was grieving upon the news of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing. I couldn’t understand why I cried while scrolling through the various tributes, be it written, drawn or created, and I couldn’t pin down the root of my mourning. I simply felt the need to pay my respects, in whatever platforms that were available to the public. Do we really need a reason for everything that we do? Do we need to logically account for our actions to others and do we need to show others what we are doing? While I was greatly moved by the throngs who waited hours to pay their respects, I saw many taking photos (and later posting on social media) and I wonder to myself the depth and honesty behind our mourning. Later on, what I also realized was that while moving along the queue, I was constantly reminded by all that he has done for this country. I can feel his smile when he had walked through Marina Bay, I can visualize his nod when he stood at the Singapore River and sadly, I understand his peace upon leaving this world.
With a heavy heart, I know it may be difficult to let go of someone who has done so much, along with his team of friends, for a land I call home; it is also important for us to come to peace with ourselves. To strive to be a better person at the end of the day, to take criticism in our strides but improve on ourselves −for ourselves. There can never be an infallible system, but if we learn to appreciate and love the crevices within the cracks, we may be more forgiving and less harsh to the people around us.
Because years on, you will realize what I do.
That this kind of love and respect will never move on.
It will not only withstand the test of time, it will prove to be an eternal strength for everyone to draw from whenever needed. For this is where I know I’m home.
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