Saturday, 21 May 2005

Group-think ain't my thing

Realise I haven't written nuts in ages, no time.. Hope can still remember the significant stuff, and finish everything before going out!

Too much to write * too little time = messy :p

Granted, group-think has its advantages: tap on people's expertise, new perspectives from non-experts, the rare new/great idea, yada yada.. But I realised that very often, the same old things were simply digested and regurgitated in another form. And cynicism spreads. Then too much time may be spent on fundamental philosophies which have already been discussed to death and which may throw up more questions. People get distracted, side-track, especially during long sessions. Information overload. And what comes out of the discussion may not be constructive at all. Blah blah. I don't like.

Was note-taker for two discussions on Wed and watched two different styles of facilitating discussions. One thing I realised was that a facilitator plays a major role in any discussion; he/she needs to get the group started and keep pushing them to look at the topic from different angles, and when the group side-tracks, he/she has to bring them back to focus. Think it's an interesting position but I can never be one; I'm too scatter-brain :p

Someone mentioned that the older generation sees their kids as financial security, so they do not worry if they have no CPF, no savings. The younger generation of parents, however, are more likely to have money as a safeguard against kids who may not support them in old age.

Honestly, I've never thought about this before then but I look to my family and realise it's the truth. My grandparents brought up their seven kids with a provision shop. Then uncle took over and cared for the elders. Now he has his kids to provide for him while he continues to take care of Grams. Mother used to work at the provision shop until she got married. Besides doing some paid work at home, she has only worked outside for 2-3 years while I was in Oxford. Now she's 59 and still a full-time housekeeper. So she has limited savings and only ERS in her CPF. It's now left to us to provide for her.

No wonder people are stressed! You have to take care of ageing parents and if you start a family, your kids as well. Kids are optional, parents are not. So people can choose not to have kids. If we want more babies in SG, we need to free or at least reduce the future (likely single-child) generation from such a huge burden of caring for both the young and the old. Besides monetary incentives from the government for each birth, people has to understand that sloth is the greatest sin! :p I don't see my generation retiring before 70. We must have our own savings to see ourselves through old age, not so much as a safeguard but to reduce the burden on the kids. And don't forget to maintain a healthy lifestyle besides praying real hard every day for good health.

Then we talked about persons with disabilities (PWD) which include both physical and intellectual handicap. These are the people we seldom see in public places. But is it because the physical environment is not accessible to them? Or is the (negative/hostile?) non-physical environment created by the so-called normal people that is us a greater factor? When you see PWD, especially those with visible disabilities, how would you react? Feel embarassed (by what: their disability or our relative normality?) and pretend not to see them or look away? Look at them with sympathy? What if they need simple help like holding the door open? You help, you say. Do you help them like they are a mother with kids in tow or do you help them cos you pity them? We do not seem to know how to react to people who are different from us. And even the right actions may not be accompanied by the right motivation.

If we look at the disadvantaged groups as a whole, namely the aged, the disabled, the financially needy, the non-/lower educated etc, in general, how can we help them, and why? And perhaps we question: do they need help? What makes us assume that they need help? The other side of society may need help too, help to see these "disadvantaged" groups in a different light, that we are all not that different.

Being disadvantaged needs not mean just living support, it is also about being relevant to society, to family and friends. It is relatively easier if the issue is just money. When it involves more than that, things get tough. The public has to be willing to give assistance and more importantly, acceptance.

And someone said public marketing could be more important and effective than public education. Of course, these days everything is about marketing/ branding/ packaging or whatever you call it. Read an article by Sumiko Tan two Sundays ago, the last line stuck: "Because, if something is marketed well, you'll get customers like me, a Singaporean coveting a 'Singapore' T-shirt from an American store."

Then during the presentation, a group brought up safe sex education especially for teenagers and someone argued that by publicly educating on safe sex, the young may learn of it sooner than before and be tempted to try it sooner too. That begs a question: would we rather have a small group (of teenagers la, else guess not small! :p) having unprotected sex or a bigger group having safe sex but earlier in life? Tough..

Suddenly recall the old game Sim City. I would like to build and run my own city, perhaps in a non-mf-ised manner. Throw in smart people and balanced policies that result in a thriving and vibrant city. And perhaps where sex is not taboo even among teenagers as long as you use a condom? Heh.. But maybe I'm too ambitious. I'll settle for being a parent :p

The event had over-run by 1.5hr by 6pm when I realised I had to rush for ballroom. No time to look around NACLI. I was last there some six years back for a pre-departure course. I remember I sprained my right thumb playing bball the very first night and delayed going to a sinseh until the end of the course. And I was reminded of the cute frog we saw on our way up the countless steps another night. Then there was this familiar smell that hit me unexpectedly on a corridor. Strange cos the place looked like it had been renovated..

Did't feel like splurging on a cab so I walked down South Buona Vista Rd to Pasir Panjang Rd. Now the paiseh part: I asked an angmoh girl for direction at one point when the road divides into two still bearing the same name! She looked.. amused.. So I reached the bus stop and flagged down a bus. Eyed my usual seats near the exit and hey, seat next to cute guy available! But someone in front stopped the drool by smacking me with some paper.. Sito?! Right, he stayed around there.. No more cute guy for me but at least I didn't miss my stop.

Oh, Shifu mispronounced his name at his first lesson as "Sico" :p "Sicko Sito"? Heh heh!

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