It’s been a long and gruesome two weeks. Election has just ended in Singapore and as a civil servant, I had to be part of the preparation process and was on duty for more than 18 hours on the actual day. Following that, school has started and I was busy preparing the kids for the end of year examination.
Perhaps it’s my age, or that I have a child with special needs. I felt the need to read up on various policies by various political parties. And, without a doubt, I would look out for policies for children with special needs. I was lamenting to B as I read up, there isn’t a lot on children with special needs. As I watch the various speeches on Youtube, I realised none of the politicians spoke about what they wanted to do for kids with special needs. I was rather upset. B told me, “Come on A, before C, special needs would be an after thought. It is not that they don’t care about these children but in their circumstances, there are more pressing issues that they would look at or think about.”
Though I was disheartened, it also spurred on my desire to do more for kids like C. I was reading an article by Sam Rainsy who is a Cambodian politician, and he writes about his thoughts on democracy, ‘A rich country without democracy is like a mannequin in designer clothes, it looks good on the outside but it has no soul’. I really like this analogy. Not only is it apt to describe a country, I think it is useful in describing how we should teach our kids. As teachers, as parents, as fellow citizens, it is important to ensure that our students, kids or future generation do not end up as a person who looks good, is well-dressed, and/or rich yet they are individuals without character, lacks apathy and/or values in them.
Having seen and worked with so many kids, I have witnessed many cases, which to me, are saddening.
For example, on one occasion when I was teaching Values Education to my class, one of my students told me that he has already decided that he will send his parents to live in the old folk’s home. I was rather disheartened and filled with disbelief when I heard this. I asked him for his reason. He told me that, when he is an adult, he will be busy making money as it is very competitive in Singapore, so he will not have time for his parents, hence, it would be better to send them to the old folk’s home as they will have tons of old folks to mingle with and won’t feel lonely. Perhaps it’s my upbringing and my Asian roots, I couldn’t agree with the child’s saying. I find it alarming that at 14, he has already decided old folk’s home is the best place for his parents. In my mind, if we are able, we as kids, should look after our parents. I have never harbored such a thought.
Although mum and dad don’t stay with us, but with my siblings, putting them in an old folk’s home have never crossed our minds or appeared in any of our conversations. Old folk’s home is more like a last resort. Not the first decision that comes to mind.
As perhaps Asian parents and/or Asian educators, we must be acutely aware of what we do and what we impart to our kids, students and the future generation. While I am finishing up on this entry, the news reported that a few days ago, there was a mass shooting in the U.S. and President Obama is asking for stricter gun laws, and in yesterday’s Guardian, it wrote that there have been 994 mass shootings in 1004 days. My heart really wrench when I read the article. The numbers mean that on average, four people are shot and killed everyday.
This made me remember the fatal incident that happened when I was in Monash University, Melbourne Australia in 2002. A student went up to our campus at Clayton, Menzies Building, and opened fired at the students. I was at the Round building then having my lunch when the shooting happened. I can still remember the frenzy and commotion that started shortly after when someone came shouting that a shooting has happened and asked all of us to run to safety. Initially, we thought it was a joke but when we soon realised it was real, with a few of my friends, we decided to run to her hostel and stay there till further notice was given. I remember how lost we were, questioning what if the shooter runs to the hostel. We even asked if we should run across the road to my place but we were worried to be so out in the open. Although nothing happened to me, I cannot help but imagine how it felt for my peers at the Menzies, and those who were shot, and those who died. I remember telling myself, I wish no one ever has to go through such as an experience. Now as a parent, I still do not wish for anyone to go such an experience and without a doubt, not my child. Perhaps that’s why the way a country is governed is important. As wiser adults, we need to be more aware on what is happening at home and around the world. We need to impart the right values to our future leaders of the world.
As we mourn the deaths for these individuals, let’s us veer away from the past and create in present time, a better generation for the future. Let us not be people who looks good on the outside but has no soul on the inside.