Trust and Faith – Paying it Forward

“Paying it Forward – performing a good deed not for immediate personal returns but hoping this good deed will inspire others to do likewise.”

Imagine the power of internet and social media were made available for Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, I think this world would intrinsically be a much better place than it is now. We do have evangelists circulating wisdom from Gandhi and Mother Theresa and we do get inspired by the words. But this pales in comparison to actually witnessing the very acts of their beliefs.

What was so amazing was that they inspired others into believing their own causes. Gandhi didn’t form a militia to stand up to tyrannies but through his own faith and resolute belief in right and wrong, and human sensibility, inspired a following to his cause. Mother Theresa didn’t engage the Vatican to spread her love and care for the lepers and diseased. She simply acted according to her own love of humanity. I don’t think she’d feel sad if no one knew what she did because I believe she did it out of her own tender heart. And the rest became history.

I came across this noble idea of charity while surfing Facebook. I called it Serving up charity. The premise of this charity is to feed the needy, without an organized form of movement. It calls for an act of random, spur of the moment contribution to helping the needy. The kind of random act that will actually put a big doofish smile on your face and bliss in your heart. The kind that you never ask for any form of physical or verbal returns from the recipient of your deed. The kind that speaks a quiet truth: trust in humankind and the faith that people are kind at heart. The kind that will inspire people to spread love and charity instead of encircling them.

Stop jumping up and down, I’m not comparing this idea or act to what Gandhi and Mother Theresa had done. But the fundamental premise is the same; the seed of belief from the heart when acted upon, propagates through the fabric of society.

But reality check here. The idea I spoke of may very well only work in Singapore, where it has an organized form of shared public eating areas. However, with a little imagination on our part, who is to say we can’t tweak it to suit your locality needs and still keep the flavor of the deed.

Along the way, you will encounter naysayers and haters. Leave them be, no use combating with their sensibility. They hold a system of beliefs that we may not understand, much like how they don’t understand ours. As long as you don’t lose faith in yours, the seed will definitely propagate.

I am very inspired by Steve Jobs and am lucky to have borne witness to his various innovations and I’d like to end by sharing the following:

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary”

~ lty ~

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Earth Hour? Or Earth Daily?

earthhourBy now, 3/4 of earth have already observed Earth Hour. And thanks to Facebook, we get updates every half since Samoa switched off more than 20 hours ago (Samoa was the first country to observe Earth Hour).

Since 2007 switch-off in Sydney, this movement has become global. So every last Saturday of March each year, we have Earth Hour.

The movement is not without merits, otherwise it wouldn’t have the support of UN and becoming a global annual event.

I for one have become more aware of the virtues of turning off electricity when there’s no use for it. But I also acquired this habit when I was a kid at school. Or like not wasting water.

With Earth Hour, we’re getting businesses to participate, such as hotels, restaurants and even TV stations. Around the world, we celebrate Earth Hour by staging public events, handing out 60+ t-shirts, and even getting celebrities to endorse the occasion. All good if it can convert people who participate to make it a daily habit, much like brushing your teeth when you wake.

I hope it doesn’t become one huge annual bash and that establishments take it as publicity stunts. Have all these outlets that publicly support Earth Hour practice on regular basis? I’m sure there’s studies available but at the same time, perhaps these outlets should also do a checklist on how Earth Hour has affected them. For example, have they converted to using power saving light bulbs or LED lightings? If not, why?

For kids, are they turning off light when they leave their rooms? Has it become a habit? Are commercial buildings switching over to more energy-efficient systems to power up?

I guess the ‘Plus’ this year was ‘IWIYW’, as in ‘I will if you will’. Strange tagline…what if I say I won’t? Maybe it should be ‘IHHY?’, as in ‘I have, have you?’.

One suggestion is for schools to continually celebrate Earth Hour by implementing a monthly session, such as, think of ways to study or do things without having to turn on electricity. Expanding it, business establishment can also do likewise. Speaking of preservation and carbon footprint reduction, tech firms and companies that rely on computers (pretty much all) may also want to practice Earth Hour but on a more regular basis, like fortnightly or even weekly. If this can be achieved, I believe the annual event will become even more significant.

For that matter, mobile devices makers should really look into higher capacity batteries so that we don’t need to charge all the time, and then buy more chargers to charge while on the move.

I know every kWh counts and that Earth Hour has shown what can be saved by just turning off electricity for one hour. Imagine what can be achieved if you multiply this hour by 52 (for weeks) on a global scale. Imagine.

~ lty ~

Price of Economic Progress?

MBSCame across this article on WSJ on a friend’s FB page, Wealth Over the Edge: Singapore – WSJ

The first thought was of pride, that Singapore has indeed moved way ahead of her neighbors in the last 48 years. I still remember the times when I went to Chinatown and see all the old shophouses and thinking, ‘wow, so old, can collapse soon. Should demolish and build spanking new highrises.’ Dream came true? Well, in part yes.

Most of the old shophouses have indeed came down making way for condominiums and commercial towers. It’s a picture-perfect moment for any visitors in Singapore, marveling at the economic miracle that is Singapore. Singapore is a top-10 destination for many surveys such as business destination, best airlines, most expensive cities, least corrupt, to name some. But where are we in terms of happiness and harmony? I”m afraid we don’t fare too well.

Are these surveys true? Depending on who you’re polling. For most of the surveys centering economic progress, most of the polls are returned from travelers that have been to Singapore, and Singapore is indeed a great place for foreigners. Lest I get accused of being anti-foreigners, let me state that I am a foreigner in a neighboring country and I am not against foreigners living in Singapore.

As for all the other holistic surveys, these are done with local Singaporeans who naturally have more grouses than most, and who can blame them. I suppose if I were living in Singapore in the heartland, I will also have these grouses. As my friend not-wrongly pointed out, what about the uncles and aunties who are merely trying to bring home some money for yet another day. MInd you, this friend is a foreigner living in Singapore.

Like most Asian cities undergoing economic transformation, we find a big segment of local commune gets displaced and left behind. Very soon, it becomes a social divide, the haves and the have-nots. The haves will of course be spending on $26,000 cocktails, A380 jets and the Ferraris. The have-nots will of course sit by the sideline and observe, plotting, planning to becoming a have. It is an unfair society and will get more unfair if the government doesn’t mediate. But what is a balance really a balance? When does unfair become fair? To both questions, I’m afraid the answer is Never. The best that can be done is not to let it tilt so much one way that it passes the tipping point.

The author of the article above is not wrong in portraying Singapore the way it did, albeit a microscopic view. The rich and famous and the wannabes exist at all levels of society and regions, no exception. If a Mongolian, given what we understand of Mongolia, or someone from a 3rd world nation, can be players in metropolises, we are truly witnessing social divide at a global scale.

Ina  couple of years, Singapore will be celebrating 50 years of independence. Quite a milestone. In all fairness (in the face of unfairness), the Singapore government has done pretty well to build and advance our tiny island state. But at what price? The progress that we’ve had cannot be reversed. Material wealth will always be uppermost in Singaporean minds. Singapore will continue reclaiming land, adding more square foots to build so that we can maintain our global position and attracting more and more of the rich and famous and the wannabes to settle in Singapore.

The one constant is that we have a stable government, one run by, if compared to most other nations, very smart people, and some exceptionally smart. But at some point, we do know that governing a nation is not just about being smart, it is also about compassion for the people it is governing.

We had a period of being led, as we didn’t have much, and we were ably led. And a whole nation’s standard was elevated. Now that we are at a different step on an unending ladder climb, what is the next step? Are more and more Singaporeans being left behind, so much so that only a smattering of us are at the top? It is always more tiring to look up than to look down and far easier to jump from a higher place. But alas, only the few of us are there.

Staring at 50 years, I’m hoping that our government and fellow Singaporeans can really take a step back and look at what we’ve achieved so far, taking stock and create a platform to debate and ponder where we want to go in the next 50 years. Now that we not only have a brilliant and smart government, we now also have a population of pretty smart people too. Perhaps this is time for our government to work alongside the people, empower our people to truly understand the vision of where we’re heading. Not just about the next 3-5 years (election speech?) but the next 10-20-30 years and the various milestones we need to meet to progress.

I guess we’ve gone past the era where force feeding was necessary. But now, I’m afraid we not only won’t be getting fois-gras, we may even end up killing the golden goose. Mind you, we the Singaporeans are the golden geese and our quaking can’t be ignored. I concede we do have a good government but can we have a better one? All Good can be Better but if you remain at Good, then it becomes mediocre. I believe you are better than that so show it.

Maybe this is the time to return to baseline and have an overview of what Singapore really needs in the next decade or two. No point standing at some random vantage points because your views may be obscured. We will never return to Simple but we can certainly define what Simple is for Singapore.

~ lty ~