February 10, 2010

We’ve Only Just Begun

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 12:32 pm

For most, the Rony Tan issue is resolved. Apologies have been made, hands have been shook and people have been humbled. However, what this issue has successfully accomplished is to further expose the perils of religion in a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious society. It has also, sadly, brought out the worst in Singaporeans, and displayed openly their lack of ability to participate in intellectual discourse.

For the record, I never called for an apology to be made. I called for Rony to think before he said anything at all. The difference is this: With regards to his comments, I am not upset per se. In fact, it amused me that a pastor would willingly subject himself to humiliation via such an open display of stupidity. And anytime any religious entity decides they want to be embarrassed, I’m all for it. What bothers me, immensely I might add, is how the issue has been completely exploited by the media, mainstream or alternative, by the people, for or against Christianity, to promote their own interests.

When news broke that the ISD called Rony up, the headline should have read “ISD Finally Participates In Crowd Pleasing Activity”. While my criticism of the mainstream media has been no less ambiguous than it has been scathing, I surprised even myself by wondering what exactly the Temasek Review’s intentions were vis-à-vis this particular article. The inclusion of words of praise for Buddhism seemed to imply a slanted view. The subsequent text on not bearing wicked ideas against your enemy, which by the way is preached in possibly every mainstream religious text, further presents the Temasek Review’s stance. To be fair, however, they have been very respectful in the way they conduct their business, and it’s something I have the utmost respect for.

Having said that, Buddhism’s case for being tolerant is certainly made scant by the conflict between the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka, where the Buddhist Sinhalese proclaimed their religion to be superior because of its non-violent values. It must also be mentioned that while Theravada Buddhism is hardly practised in Singapore, it is still only a sterner extension of mainstream Buddhism.

Moving on, it bothers me that people called for his resignation and even prosecution. Has it come to that extent? Where we have to imprison anyone who speaks ill of anything? I find this to be the direct consequence of government influence. When people began sticking gum on train doors and on lift buttons, instead of educating the population, the government banned it. As if it wasn’t important to them at all that we were taught why vandalism was bad. It is a notable trend. Anything they can’t handle, or they feel we can’t handle, they refuse to permit. Knuckle dusters, firecrackers, politically and religiously sensitive material, and even Playboy, all banned.

It should come as no surprise then that Singaporeans would try and get rid of that that they do not understand. Instead of seeing the need for civil discussions, intellectual debates and exchange of ideas, most Singaporeans jump straight into “apologise and arrest” mode. And it is precisely because the education system has not managed to cultivate in them an inquisitive mind. It has not managed to convince them that the acquisition of knowledge is far more important, and far more satisfying than the acquisition of say… Fancy branded wallets and expensive jeans. Sexual conquest has jumped ahead of thirst for wisdom in our list of priorities, and it is this superficial culture, undertaken by most, that has led us to the brink of what can only be described as complete and utter hopelessness.

As for the following category of people, I really cannot decide whether to consider them more benign than the first. They are the ones who see this pastor’s faux pas as an opportunity to glorify their own religion. The ones who shamelessly promote their beliefs in an effort to trump someone else’s. I feel at this point of time, the need to clarify something. I am not preaching my belief. If anything, I’m preaching disbelief.

Back to the topic, these people, these opportunists, do not realise how dangerous and despicable their behaviour is. I equate it to kicking a man in the nuts after he’s been run over by his own runaway, brake-less car. But most importantly, it is dangerous because it speaks volumes of their personalities. Instead of lecturing Rony or educating him about their religion, which by the way I doubt they know very well themselves, these people prefer to sit down, watch as the chaos unfolds, occasionally fan the already raging flames, continue watching as what little credibility their fellow religion has gets crushed, and swoop in to salvage the remains. The hypocrisy disgusts me to no end. “We want to co-exist. But see how much better my god is than yours?”

The state of the country, or the world for that matter, is evident. It is a picture of superficiality and apathy, lacking intelligence and critical thinking. It is one filled with much sorrow and bloodshed, one filled with false promises and never-ending, self-generating fallacies. It is one filled with indifference and intolerance. It is one even an almighty creator would be ashamed to call his work. Those who consider themselves environmentalist, who claim to want to save the planet, I ask you this. How do we expect to save the planet, when we can’t even save ourselves?


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