Friday, January 11, 2008

Happiest Country in Asia?

Singapore is featured in this ABC news as being the happiest country in Asia. Check it out here.

I smiled as I read this. Simply because this news-video is only a tiny glimpse of some quick survey. It seems to be a hastily put together snippet of life in Singapore, reflecting little scholarship and contains insufficient credible sources. Many people in Singapore will disagree with the findings. While they may have their viewpoints and continue their posture of discontent, I think this is an opportunity to be thankful for this small island country and what they have achieved so far. We cannot deny that life has been good, even though tough, in the draconian state. We cannot let a good life make the people arrogant. We cannot be complacent that what is obtained today will remain the same tomorrow. Singaporeans have been witnessed being rude and arrogant when they go on holidays in other countries. They have been cited for lack of manners and social graces. Even the Mentor Minister has said that in his lifetime, he does not see any improvement. True, costs of living have gone up. Basic stuff are getting more expensive. Even education where many people cherished has now become something to fight over, where parents ensure that their children get the 'best' education possible. Let us not be deceived, and to be too narrow in our definition of what 'best' means. The best education is NOT necessarily to be accepted and enrolled in a premier school. The best results are not the multiple strings of distinctions at the end of each examination year. The best environment is not to simply surround oneself with top academics but humble learners. We have to measure our understanding of 'best' and taper it according to the word 'appropriate.' I have always believed that an A-student is called to get the best A he can get. The B-student is to get the best 'B' he can possibly get. The C-student is to get the best 'C.' Not everyone is called to be in the premier tracks of life, no matter how badly we want it for our loved ones. Not everybody can get the rare scholarship on offer. There is only one first prize. Yes some of us are called to do just that. Not everybody. It is not a reflection of our worth in life. We cannot let society define us based on what we do, or what the job title on our name card says. We are at the bottom line, loved by God. Trusting God to reveal who we are in the light of his will remains one of the most important education we can ever have for ourselves and for our kids. If we can gradually change our life vocabulary, preferring a thoughtful 'most appropriate' instead of a thoughtless 'best kind', we will be better servants for all. What good is the best gift on earth in the hands of one who is simply not ready to receive it? What society declares 'best' may not be the same for different individuals. I take comfort that our heavenly Father knows what is best for each of us. Just like an earthly father who long to give good gifts to their children, our heavenly father gave us his Son, defenseless, humble and loving Christ. He gave the disciples the best available fishes and loaves of bread at that time. He distributed the most appropriate symbolism of himself in simple bread and wine at the last Supper. No fancy top-quality Salmon or Japanese sushi. No high class multi-grained expensive bread. No famous Californian Cabernet or French wine. It is simply the most humble elements served with a golden heart. This is our Christian calling. Our small hands must be directed by a big heart of love. Our words must be communicated with a generous consideration for the integrity for our neighbour.

Finally, I believe that as a Christian, wherever we go or are called to live in, we ought to see following God's call as being the safest and best place on earth. It could be in first world, second, third or otherwise, what is most important is to be in the center of God's choice. Far better, wherever we go, we become a channel for God's kingdom to flow. This should be the perspective of anyone questioning where is the best place to live. This should be the paradigm hat that people contemplating emigration should wear. This should be the purpose that Christians are to live by. The safest, best and happiest place on earth is to be in the center of God's will.


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