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The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

In the past few weeks we've seen the unfolding of the story that is Ris Low. For the uninitiated, it involves a 19-year old winning the title of Miss Singapore-World, her inpromptu interview and the revelation that she does not possess the eloquence expected of someone about to represent the nation on a global stage.
The public reaction was expected. You had those who <a href="http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2009/09/the-mrbrown-show-so-hot-boomz-remix-mv.html">made fun of her</a>, those who <a href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143858161816">created a Facebook group</a> and those who <a href="http://izreloaded.blogspot.com/2009/09/and-most-retarded-miss-singapore-is.html">were just dying to cast the first large boulder</a>.
It didn't help her cause that she was later found out to have previously committed credit card fraud, and then admitted to having suffered from a bipolar disorder.
But she's stated that she's still not throwing in the towel and returning the crown; how it's been a dream of hers and she's pursuing it, despite the overwhelming cacophony of voices maliciously denigrating her.
We Singaporeans love to play judge. Somewhere in our "you must grow up to be a lawyer" childhood we have been imprinted with the idea that power lies in the hands of those who do the judging. So we've acquired this over-developed ability to judge others. We are quick to deliver scathing remarks, complain if the train is a few minutes late and rant as if the universe owed us a living.
But real power doesn't lie in judgement. It is easy to play armchair judge on Singapore idol and belittle someone elses' lack of talent or skill. The contestants will probably tell you that going under the bright lights is a very sobering experience, and you come out of it more humbled and less likely to criticise.
So yes, Ris Low is flawed, and she probably isn't the first choice we'd pick if we wanted to win the international competition. But I know of so many who have similar problems with diction, and my own past is as chequered as hers. The only difference is that I haven't had the guts to subject myself to the possibility of failure in pursuit of a dream, however ludicrous others may claim.
I admire Ris for her bravery and I believe that everyone should be given chances to undo the mistakes of their youth and access to support in overcoming their personal adversity. I want my children to be brought up in an environment that believes and embodies these beliefs.
The question before us is not so much whether we will win the Miss World title, but whether we can take this chance to mature as a society and recognise that the fragmentation in society caused by being overly critical and competitive is destroying us from within. And whether we have the guts to bravely look in the mirror and accept the fact that we are all fraught with imperfections, but we are all united in the unfolding story that is Singapore.

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