Today I want to blog about something close to heart.
After all my experiences in Finland, I really do think more Singaporeans should learn to think long-term. This implies that we should learn NOT to think so short-term, not to be myopic, and not to lapse into the “me myself and I” psyche.
So, today I want to briefly blog about three ways on how we, as young Singaporeans, can make a difference to our immediate community. For the next fifty years, I hope more young people can learn to have a vision, dream bigger and establish a solid standing for Singapore on the global stage. In other words, always insist on becoming a better version of your current self, and always insist on expanding your thought and experience horizon.
1. Develop opinions, defend them, but do not be afraid of changing your mind.
Increasingly, making a difference anywhere in the world has become increasingly about first having an opinion and then standing by your opinion. Now this takes guts and strength of character, because it means standing up for what you think is just and right in spite of what others might think. You have to be strong enough mentally to rock the boat but not sink it.
Strong leaders who can truly impact the world are leaders with a strong vision that they are fully convinced by, and have the conviction to execute. Don’t be afraid of making unpopular decisions if you truly feel that they are more useful to society in the long run—future generations will thank you for it!
But also, at the same time, be engaged in active listening. Don’t be afraid of changing your mind in whatever you do, if someone else is more convincing and logical! 🙂 Make it difficult for them, though! 🙂
2. Thank God for Anger.
Yet, to first have an opinion and stand by it, you need to know what drives you. It is here that I think being angry helps. Because anger will prevent you from being lukewarm about things, and from there you can find out wha really drives you.
Ask yourself, what are you angry about? Is it racism, gender inequality or environmental issues? Most often than not, anger and passion will guide you through tough times and long nights when nothing seems to be going your way.
My source of anger is racism. Racism is rampant in Finland–surprise, surprise! Just check out these news: Migrant Tales, The Olli Immonen Saga and a reasonable critique of racism in Finland. I’m angry not ncessarily against racism targeted at myself, because I’m quite vocal and once I retaliate when I’m picked on, those (minority, I hope) Finns will retreat.
I’m quite fierce when I fight! 😛
I feel angry at some Finns who just bully people who are from developing nations. These people are sometimes refugees, and even foreign students from countries “not as rich” as Finland. Some Finns tend to see them as suspicious and leeches.
Here’s one account by my friend from Vietnam. I find that the unfair treatment towards her is unpardonable, because she’s obviously one of the most talented ladies I’d ever known. -*starts to roll eyes all over again at racists*.
So you can see–Anger/ passion breeds grit and the hunger to succeed. After I cooled down, I’m always somewhat grateful for people who make me angry, or piss me off! This happened so many times in Finland; never in Japan though, I guess it’s due to Japanese culture being closer to Singapore’s than Finland’s. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew once referred to Finland’s business environment as a “Fluke”–I actually do agree largely!-because it is a fact that some of the older Finns are still traumatised by historical events like the USSR pseudo-socialistic experience and years ruled by the Swedes.
Because racism and myopic minds make me so angry, I am very determined not to be racist or myopic myself. And that drives me. Also, since I’d witnessed racist/discriminatory events with my own eyes in Finland, even in school–I’d grown to truly appreciate the multiracial, multicultural harmony we have that is so precious in Singapore.
Also I’d think about ways to deal with racism: I’m quite inspired by, for instance, Gackt’s way! He experienced racism in France this year and the way he dealt with it was so admirable. 🙂
So, even though I forgive, I tend not to forget. While feeling very sorry for the racist, I will also think about ways to educate him/her and help him/her out of his/her myopic worldview. So I would say, anger did help me realise that not every country is as business/race-friendly as Singapore, and that nobody is exempt from becoming a scapegoat due to racism overseas.
3. Always level up! 🙂
Since we are born in Singapore and are relatively affluent, it’s very tempting to continue living within our comfort zones of a sheltered life. This is largely defined as getting a good degree from a good university, going into civil service and having an iron bowl for the rest of your life.
Yet, if you think carefully about it, a Bachelor/Master/PhD degree really means nothing when it comes to living life on your terms, and pursuing your dreams. What I mean by living life on your terms is simply that YOU–yes YOU–lead a life based on your visions, values, ethics and talents. Not what society prescribes for you, nor some extremely sad lives underutilising your talents and compassion.
So, make sure you think global. Because the saddest thing in life is to live your entire life as a narrow-minded person, only to discover it very late in life and then regret.
At least, dare to travel and/or be random.
These are my wishes for you. Dream big! Don’t be afraid, life is so short anyway! 🙂