Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Spirit of a Freedom Seeker or Disillusioned Deserter

Again my Facebook wanderings have presented me with a gem, in the form of a bloggers entry presented as a letter to their homeland in critique of its rejection or ignorance of its diverse population.

Here is the link if you are interested:

I was fascinated by both the bloggers entry and the multitude of varied responses it received. It so intrigued me that I was inspired to leave a response myself, which is below.

"It is not just the young of Singapore who may feel the pull to explore the places where “the grass is greener” or where adventure and new opportunities are offered, those are qualities shared by many people around the globe. That spirit to explore, experience and have freedom is what moved human society from where it began to where it is today. It is what sent the explorers out into the unknown to find other strange and wonderful places and what continues to drive our exploration of this planet and outer space.

By exploring and travelling people have learned new skills and been inspired to create new things. They have gone back and shared these things with their home countries in most cases. So I think that all those who leave their homelands, whether it is to travel or emmigrate, they are not abandoning their country to remain in a static state but continue to add to the system.They will be in some way playing a part in the cultural shift or status quo by feeding ideas in their communities and spawning conversations which could spark change.

I agree that this young writer is romanticizing their experience, but they have admitted that themselves. This doesn’t make the points they have raised any less worth considering. It seems like the main point is not just that this person has become disenchanted with the preoccupations of their home country but by the way in which that effects the greater society. The experience of not being accepted is the quickest way for a society to lose people. 

Shutting out those who are too old, too strange or don’t fit in some other way is only creating lost opportunities of finding new ways to do things or understand things. If an individual is only kept in the work force when/if they are at their peak ability both physically and mentally then we are losing the wisdom of the elders and the creativity and energy of the young. Also the traditional views of those with disabilities being unable to contribute means the abiliities of these individuals is left untapped.

I don’t say these things with the view that inclusion and acceptance is something to be pushed because of its economic value but rather its social value. Our communities would be richer by having greater diversity and the prevalence of social issues such as crime and poverty would concievably be reduced. These things aren’t based on idealism, there are case studies to support it.

The perspective that Singapore is protectionist and unwilling or unable to change due to perceived threats from outside and inside its borders is probably quite true, but what isn’t is the assumption or implication that Singapore is the only country like that. The fact is that many other nations around the world have some variety of this stance as well. It is this self perpetuating fear or suspicion of the “other” and its associated greed that is holding us all back from being able to make the big changes that will benefit all communities globally. 

It is only when we stop our process of seeking, exploring and challenging that our cultures will stop changing. I fervently pray that such a day never comes, as that will be the day we lose our ability to adapt. And as things are and will continue to be in the future in terms of need and limited resources our adaptability will be even more critical to our existence, in a world that I hope is still worth being part of."

This really jumped out at me as an example of what many countries and communities are dealing with, what is our identity?, where do we go in the future?, how do we get there? and many other such questions. But not all countries are taking into consideration how to get everyone into the future. This is where those of us that can need to speak up and work toward making our communities somewhere that we can all participate and contribute. Because it should not just be what we can get from our communities and what they 'owe' us, but what we can give and do for them.