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A Place in Our Hearts

In recent years I have come to think of Singapore more of a city and less of a country. It has freed me from paradigms that do not exist, most chiefly that I am bonded to this place simply because I was born here.
It is probably as absurd these days to claim an affinity based on geographical location of origin as it is to judge a person by their skin colour. It happens, but it is scarcely ideal.
Singapore needs to become more than a place where our friends and families reside. Many of our friends have since migrated to other countries, and frankly, if we had the means, many of us would have moved our entire families elsewhere. It is not because we're all ungrateful bastards, but there are some things we cannot find on this city-state.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4291640945/" title="20100121-019 by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4071/4291640945_72492c0c9b.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="20100121-019" class="img-center" /></a>
Where once relevant, I find our 2 main alternative political websites <a href="http://theonlinecitizen.com/">The Online Citizen</a> and <a href="http://temasekreview.com/">Temasek Review</a> becoming increasingly disconnected and bitter, and neither traits aid the maturation of the citizenry. Sometimes the best news doesn't gain attention; not everything stands on its own as a headline.
Xenophobia has been gaining ground here in Singapore, and will continue to do so unless we actively combat it. It is far easier to pick on people who are different, than realising and accepting that it is in this diversity from which we derive our greatest strength.
Singapore needs to evolve away from the very bare definition that a country is defined by geographical boundaries.
Singapore needs to be a well-articulated idea.
She cannot be everything to everyone. We can expect prices here to escalate; surely we are not exempt from these basic economic principles. What the government can do is mitigate the rate in which these things change.
I'm sitting here watching primary school students visit the Merlion. I notice that many of them have digital cameras. The teachers are doing their best to create an enriching excursion despite the slight drizzle. I've spent the past few weeks riding up and down <a href="http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&amp;task=parkconnectors&amp;Itemid=74">Singapore's park connectors</a>, checking the <a href="http://app2.nea.gov.sg/3hnowcast.aspx">National Environment Agency's 3-hourly weather forecast</a> to see if my next ride will be affected.
Say what you will, but I think the government has done a fine job in many areas. Yes, the website for the park connectors takes forever to load, and we can complain about that on our twitterfeeds or blogs and rant incessantly on how we paid our taxes but the websites don't work. Or we could <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&source=embed&oe=UTF8&amp;msa=0&amp;msid=103080507074890226651.000480fb0847b3eed3257">map out the connectors ourselves</a>.
Thing is, we have a lot more power than we realise. We who have some to spare can give to people who are in need. Now more than ever, we are able to rally together to support great causes or change the status quo.
I'll repeat it: Singapore needs to be a clearly articulated idea. I do not doubt that debate is healthy for the country, but when it descends to a never-ending stream of negativity, surely we need to search within ourselves if we have the means to change things.
The idea that is Singapore is shaped not only by the work of her government, but by the actions of her people. We need to make this place something we, and our children, can subscribe to.

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