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February 2009 Archives

No Common Sense

Singapore needs to watch this.

Work-Life Balance

“Don’t make work your life”, I’m often told. The alternative offered is to view work as a means to an end — that work is somehow mutually exclusive from the activities one would associate as “having a life”.

I find it impossible to separate work from the rest of my life not because I live to work, but because we shouldn’t be spending so many hours in the office working to death.

Our work should enrich the lives of the people we serve.

Soul Searching

Some things transcend national boundaries.

When Jennifer Hudson took the stage at this year’s Superbowl with her rendition of the Star-spangled Banner, it was an amazing testimony to the enduring resilience of hope. If anybody had a right to be cynical about American rhetoric like freedom and bravery in the face of oppression, Hudson would have been most deserving. The loss of her mother, brother and nephew to a senseless act of violence last October should have shredded any semblance of ideals.

But it didn’t. Her rendition of the American anthem was amazing, not only because of the flawless vocals, but also her moving personal story behind it.

The often-quoted line from the movie “V for Vendetta” goes,

Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.

I believe, that in order for Singapore to endure, the country has got to stand for something more than efficient processes and non-corrupt governing. Because there will come day when processes will fail and people in power found corrupt. Realistically speaking, a “dose of bad government” is an inescapable probability as evidenced by all manners of civilisation since man’s infancy. Will Singaporeans have anything to hold on to when that happens? Are we staying only because Singapore affords us shelter, and will we leave when the winds change?

As a designer, I am driven to seek the core of any design: a story. A story gives words and sentences purpose.

Such is my desperation to know my country better that I tweeted, “What country are you from, and what does it represent?”

Most Singaporeans tell me is that Singapore’s core value is meritocracy.

So let us unite as a nation, where every man for himself?

Needed

It was only last week when I was in charge Anne’s bedtime routine. I’d brush her teeth, read her a few stories and then put her to bed. Somewhere, somehow she took a preference to me doing all this and would ask Faith to “go outside please” when it was near bedtime.

Faith was initially glad for the reprieve, but as the days turned to weeks, Faith began to feel a little excluded. It’s not easy to have your child ask you to leave the room so she can have an exclusive powwow with someone else.

One night, about 2 weeks ago, Anne bade Faith goodnight as she normally did. Just as Faith was about to leave the bedroom, Anne explained, “I like Daddy because he is warm. You are not warm enough.” She paused for a second before adding, “but I still love you”.

You wouldn’t believe how much that meant to Faith at that point in time. We were thankful that this little 3 and a half year old was sensitive enough to reassure her mother that she was still very much loved. And Faith, almost ten times older in years, needed to hear those words from the kiddo.

The bedtime routine has changed this last week. Faith now handles bedtime stories because according to Anne, boys and girls shouldn’t mix. She overheard me explaining this last December to a group of campers regarding dorm rooms. But she still insists that I be there to pat her back while she settles down to sleep.

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