2011 was an amazing year in many ways. But isn’t every year amazing for you and me?
We went through a General Elections where we managed to finally exercise our collective voice through the Internet (the Prime Minister actually apologized on behalf of his party, can you believe it?) as a galvanizing force, we demonstrated to the local news media that we no longer consumed media in the old, top down manner, and technology continues to transform the way we consume content with greater acceleration than ever.
On the personal front, I completed my fourth year working in Microsoft, and my SPH journalism days are but a faint and distant memory. My thought processes remain much like a journalist – always probing, always skeptical – but my daily skill sets have shifted from the verbal to the numerical.
It’s hard to believe, but I’m finding it harder and harder to write posts on this blog. The older you get, the less you want to say about how you feel and the things that you observe. It’s also more difficult in a corporate world when people can easily misconstrue what you write. Facebook now offers me a private space where I can share my ramblings and images constantly with my close friends and acquaintances, without fearing some random stranger who would read my posts and form an inaccurate picture of me.
And this year, after 15 years since I first rode my army motorcycle, I finally got my own civilian bike, freeing me from the tyranny of the Certificate of Entitlement (which have returned to sky-high levels of the early 2000s) but exposing me to the relentless Singapore wet weather and reckless Johor riders.
As we head into 2012, apparently the year the world ends according to the Mayans, I do have some wishes I hope to see come true before the Mayan or Christian Apocalypse. They might seem insignificant to some of you, but hey, they mean a lot to me. These are things I think about daily these days, and I hope the new year brings improvements in these areas.
More good drivers on the roads, seriously.
If you think about it, there is much stress, anger, time wastage, loss of productivity and general unhappiness that is generated by lousy drivers and riders. One fool tailgating and smashing into another car in front can generate a traffic jam on the PIE, CTE and AYE combined. And totaling your car today by choice or otherwise, is a very expensive proposition, since COEs are so high. Bad drivers can really spoil everyone’s day, so for brighter days ahead, let’s drive well and be better role models to the young drivers around us so they won’t pick up bad habits that other people impress upon them.
Global warming is upon us and it sucks. From higher temperatures to colder Novembers, we who live at the Equator suffer pretty badly. We don’t get hit by typhoons or tidal waves, but there are people who do and we should pray for them too.
Personally, I don’t like Twitter. I mean, why restrict me to a stupid 140-character limit? And I’ve mentioned before that it drives poor social media behavior as people seek to be as controversial or as witty as they can, even if the situation does not call for it. We’ve seen various companies and individuals taken down by poor use of Twitter and Facebook. In the new age where we talk less and post more, we need more common sense, and more wariness of what the Internet can do to our reputations.
Sensibility also extends to the way we think about our society and our neighbors. I’m personally appalled by much of the xenophobia and bias towards foreign talent in our country, when society is a free-for-all and everyone has a right to grab their opportunity if the talent and the heart fit the job. So what if they speak differently from us? They’re still people, with families, with dreams and with emotions. Just like you and me.
More people need to speak up on the things that are going wrong. For too long, we’ve kept mum as some public services have deteriorated (MRT services, COE management, housing policies etc) but because so many Singaporeans like to complain about the smallest things, people think that it’s wrong to complain too much. Excuse me, it’s never wrong to complain when something is really wrong, but one must also provide intelligent solutions, Otherwise, the ones you complain about will always say you don’t know what’s going on, so keep quiet. Show them you know, show them you’ve got the guts to speak up, and show them you’ve got the brains to offer alternatives and answers.
A greater pursuit of happiness and contentment
My personal philosophy of life is to seek happiness + contentment for myself, my family and my friends. I recently cleared a few drawers full of old letters and receipts. Now I was cheered to see letters and photos of long lasting friendships, but I was also stunned by how many receipts I had for materialistic goods like speaker systems, cameras and other gadgets. I love technology, and I love gadgets, but I have to remind myself I’m no longer writing technology stories and keep my gear to a minimum of what keeps me happy and contented. Many of my gadgets served that purpose, but quite a few didn’t. I will also have to work harder on bringing happiness to those around me.
Contentment is another tough thing to achieve. When is enough enough? Especially in a society like ours where it is so difficult to satisfy everyone? We should not be content with poor services or policies, but we should be thankful that life here is much better than many places in the world. We should not be content with the terrible education system that forces children to lose their childhood, but we should be glad that the kids can grow up in a safe environment here. Contentment doesn’t mean accepting every situation, but being positive about what we have that is good and useful.
And finally, I pray that many more people will come to know Jesus and the message of hope, love and eternal life that he brings to us. I also pray for older Christians like me who are constantly on the verge of forgetting his grace and power. Every day, I remind myself that the things I have are made possible only because He allows it, and we pray daily with the kids, always hoping that they will walk the straight and narrow path, and not veer off it. In a world where so many things are uncertain and where many of my desires as listed above may never come true, God remains the one constant that does not change. Whether we’ll have a financial meltdown again, or whether we will get stuck in another train disruption, there’s only one person to rely on no matter how bad or how good things get for us.
So here’s a great new year to you.