Monday, March 18, 2013

Be the better person

Hello friends.

I know I haven't been posting. There are some matters that are weighing heavily on my mind at the moment, and I have not yet reached the stage where I can write about them.

I do have a reminder for myself, which is this:

I hate it when I hear people complain about other people, and attribute their sins to the fact that they are "from China/India/Western countries/wherever that is not Singapore". I absolutely hate it when I hear people use the term "foreign trash".

I'm not saying that "foreigners" are angels. What I am saying is that nationality is irrelevant. There are people who behave well and people who don't behave well. There are Singaporeans who behave well and Singaporeans who don't behave well. There are people from China who behave well and people from China who don't behave well. There are people from India who behave well and people from India who don't behave well. There are Westerners who behave well and Westerners who don't behave well.

There are some stereotypical judgments which are acceptable. Generalisations about food, attitudes about education and politics, cultural differences - these are acceptable. However, when it comes to a person's character, I do not think it is acceptable to condemn an entire nation.

We don't need to set up negative stereotypes of other nationalities. We don't need to condemn anyone just because he/she is not from Singapore. More importantly, we don't need to behave as if we're better than everyone else. Because we're not. Nobody is better than someone else on the basis of nationality alone. (Actually, I have come across more unpleasantness dealing with Singaporeans than with any other nationality, which ironically, challenges my belief that nationality is irrelevant.)

Have you heard of this - "Seek first to understand, then to be understood"? I feel that people need to do more of this. Try to get to know someone first, try to understand what is happening first. Before you start condemning, before you start assigning blame, before you jump to conclusions and certainly, before you render judgment.

Now that I am a parent, it is even more important to me that I do not adopt this locals vs. foreigners mentality because, and I think most parents know this, your child picks up everything from you.

If my child were ever to say something like, "That person was so rude. People from [China/USA/etc] are all like that", I will not hesitate to give my child a hard lesson which he/she will never forget. I will not raise children who are bigots. I will not raise them to be rude, insensitive and callous. I will not raise them to be prejudiced and hateful.

After I deal with my child, I will slap Richard and I will ask Richard to slap me. As hard as possible. Because in all likelihood, Richard and I must have said or done something to give our children the impression that it is acceptable, or right (?!), to think this way. Our children observe how Richard and I treat people, they listen to our conversations with our friends and, when they are older, they will even read what we send out on our social networks. They will see what we write on our Facebooks, they will see the anti-foreigner posts that we "liked" or shared or tweeted about. If our children are bigots, it will be our fault.

Actually, the reason I am writing about this is because, this past week, I have had the misfortune of coming into contact with a few people who, despite every kindness I show them, seem to be trying their best to piss me off. And it is taking me a lot to stop myself from saying, "Ugly Singaporean!".

So I guess this post is to give me strength. To help me pray for tolerance, for patience and for grace. To remind myself to hold on to what I believe, so that I can be the person I want to be, so that I can be the parent I want to be.

It does not matter where the "bad guys" are from. It does not even matter what the "bad guys" do or have done. What matters is how I react. What matters is what I do or say. What matters is who I am. I will choose to be the better person, even if I have to die trying.

So, as always, here's my reminder. You guys have read this before on this blog many times:

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true
are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
That people are basically good.
That honour, virtue, and courage mean everything.
That good always triumphs over evil.
That true love never dies.
Doesn't matter if they're true or not.
A man should believe in those things anyway.
Because they are the things worth believing in."

I won't be posting much this week. At least not until I resolve the saga. Rest assured that everything at home is good and Richard, Ryan and Rachel are doing well.


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