Journey to the West?
Posted by inspir3d on October 10, 2006
This is a spirited response to Kitana’s ‘Why I Would Like to Leave,’ by young Aerasio who, despite his youth, already feels strongly grounded in Singapore. It’s not as long an essay as Kitana’s, but I am particularly struck by his youthful idealism and expressed conviction to stick to his beliefs. It is my hope that by publicising it here to a wider audience, his idealism will be preserved and spread.
Journey to the West?, by Aerasio
I was reading a post on Intelligent Singaporean on the reasons why Singaporeans emigrate to other countries. Basically, what the author said was that emigrating Singaporeans did so because of the tolerance and freedom of other western countries and that these qualities overrode all the good points of Singapore, despite the negative aspects of foreign countries. The inclusiveness and acceptance they found abroad was infinitely preferable to the inanely busy pressure-cooker rat-race that we find in Singapore.
Doubtless, there are many who agree with [her]. Singapore, for all its safety and efficiency, is certainly lacking in social friendliness, inclusiveness and accountability. We have a Kiasee/Kiasu culture that to some is essential and endearing but I find sad and at times repulsive. I don’t know about all Singaporeans, but in the circles that I grew up in and among my friends, it is the rare Singaporean that is concerned with issues in society and things outside of their immediate view. It is a kind of apathy that I abhor, a willing ignorance or mayhap subconscious fear of the government and its actions. Politics and civil liberties are over their heads, not their business, and so they don’t care about it. This I feel is the reason why we don’t have political freedoms. Not because of government repression, but because of an instinctive fear and unwillingness to fight in the average Singaporean. Because we lack the will to fight for it, we lack the responsibility and maturity to have it and defend it and are unable to pressure the government into letting us have it.
Yet despite all these intellectual concerns, I don’t think I will leave Singapore. In the end, it is my homeland. It is the place where I grew up, where my heart is. America is big, and free but it has its problems as well. Canada may be wonderfully tolerant, but too much liberty is bad as well. I still can’t bring myself to abandon the culture I grew up in, the people I grew up with, the bonds I have, the ties I’ve forged. It is one thing to say “that country is more free, I think its better to live there,” it is another to say “I’m going to leave everything I know and love and go to where it’s nicer”. Another part of me rebels against emigration for another reason, the idea of patriotic duty. This may not have been the land of my forefathers or my ancient ancestors, but it is my land. I was born here, raised here, and I see its problems. Does that mean I take off and go to a place where there are less problems? Do I leave my home because its uncomfortable intellectually to stay? I guess it would be pompous of me to say no, but I still say no. I think that the right thing to do, would be to fight for it, though everyone else may not. To at least try to do what you feel is right. The author is right when [she] talks about the pressure of Singapore. The constant stress, the immense pressure to succeed, and the materialistic and ultimately worthless nature of that success. It is a problem, but instead of avoiding it, or running away from it, maybe we should try to change it.
I realize that the author’s words may have merely been intended to justify the actions of those of us who have migrated. I don’t think that it makes them any less human or justified. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, thats what the creator endowed us with right? I guess I’m just too backward to admit that “Singapore is not a place where such dreams flourish”. Too idealistic to admit that my efforts probably won’t amount to anything anyway. But I’ll stay on, and do my best to live there anyway, because thats what I believe in.
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