Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Catch 22

There's been alot on the PM's speech. Let's just say his speechwriters need to be fired. Then again if he wrote his own speech, then he needs to get speechwriters. I'm firm believer in having good speechwriters, and American-style lying and spin doctoring. So don't vote for me. I'll spin you good.

I've been thinking alot about Singapore. Partly due to the fact that I am coming home for good this December, partly because I am considering being a civil servant, or in our case a Mandarin. There's a key difference between the two. Our bureaucrats are obviously not inclined to think of themselves as civil SERVANTS, so a better, and oft used term, is Mandarin. Afterall they dispense wisdom from up high.

I've also been thinking alot about Turkey and Eygpt. There, like here, the state is all pervasive. It's everywhere. Like us, Turks and Eygptians also know that they can't do without the state. In all honesty, our institutions have been designed to be all pervasive. Even if we somehow elected a new government into power, it's only a matter of time before they become all pervasive. If they roll it back (which party would do that) then our community would be suffering from withdrawal syndrome. We are entirely dependent on the state for most everything. Despite our urge to be free of it, let's be honest and admit we actually like some things about our all pervasive state. We like the efficiency and convenience.

It's reflected in our relationship with our parents. As we grow older we love to be more independent, but the truth is we like the convenience of living with our parents. Sure we can't bring skanky women home for one night stands, and we cannot be sure the tea we bought won't be stolen by someone else in the household, but we like that our clothes are washed, food is cooked and we're reminded to pay our bills. I used to be like that, my sis is like that. Having lived on my own for 5 and 1/2 years now, I actually value my freedom. I still miss homecooked meals (not ruined by me) and not having to do laundry (more time for bumming around), but I also like the fact that I know my bottle of OJ won't disappear and I can bring home skanky women i picked up at bars (only in my fantasy world).

That's what my relationship with Singapore is like. We want more freedom, but we like living with our parents. The thing is there will come a time when we must leave home. We must create our own spaces, our own families. So while we like the all-pervasive efficiency and convenience, we also would like to pioneer our won space. We'd like to be parents ourselves.

The question is can we give up the convenience and efficiency of our insitutions? A little bit of instability for a little bit of freedom? Life is full of trade offs. What are we willing to trade?