Summer break has ended and the new term started about a week ago. Sociology is growing on me since I entered university. It is nice to have finally found something you’re interested to learn about. My good friend is a keen “advocate” of the sociology-related statements she make – you can read about the various posts she’d written here in our shared blog; she had also introduced me to documentaries on unorthodox topics we don’t usually discuss openly among our friends or even academics. She’s always full of zest to go out there and seek out for varied opinions; to hear from different people, from the minorities. There’re alot of things I gathered in my own thoughts from reading what she’d written and seeing the things she do, why and how she does it. I supposed the environment does play an extremely important role in influencing our preferences than our own instincts or any innate senses we have. I hope I’ll still feel as keen to never stop learning about new things related to this area of study after I finished school. And perhaps find new areas of interest to look forward to in everyday life.
Tonight, I started reading a book I was told to buy for a module I’m currently taking. It’s titled “Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus“. It wasn’t one of the prescribed readings for any nearing lecture sessions. I had wanted to know: what are academics going to say about the policies this time? I’m an apathetic citizen of my own country and politically-polarized (according to Wiki, my individual stance on issues is with the identification of a particular political party) – this statement being unrelated to my review of the book. I didn’t read about the CPF minimum sum – I got to learn about it from the dissatisfied word of mouth from an auntie below my block and then I googled it. The most I’d heard about the opposition was from their manifestos; news sources about them were available but I didn’t read it.
I saw most critics about the government as the minority (growing to be the majority now) who should have known better to be grateful and settle with what the State has done for us. I didn’t see these critics as being conducive to improving the policies but instead, they’re intentionally targeted at the party governing our State. I was very ready to defend my stand when I get asked for an opinion on the politics (ironically not being well-read, or even have read anything about it at all). To think about it now, to just settle with whatever we’re given/told without questioning and missing the alternative voice who always seem to have something
negative to say to critique about, it demonstrates no more of me being a grateful and concerned citizen.
I don’t mean 30 pages of Hard Choices have made me realized the flaws of the government and that I have broken out of false consciousness and decide to side with… someone else. There were alot of justifications that I thought made most sense in explaining why certain policies were put in place. Importantly, I assumed the unfortunate impact caused by these policies were always inevitable in any and every society, such as competition for employment opportunities, dwindling wages of low-skilled labor, growing income inequality. But you realized they’re not unavoidable side effects of capitalism or globalization. You also realized that social assistance wouldn’t necessarily work to close the income inequality gap in the long term. People could still enjoy a reasonably good standard of living with more efforts channeled to greater distribution of wealth, rather than aggressively injecting growth into the economy.
I guess what I’d learn from reading about 1/10th of Hard Choices is that we’ve moved beyond the times of the State carrying us on its back (period when economic growth was of top priority) to the hand-holding stage (period where people’s welfare is of priority now since economic stability is more/less attained) where the State now works with its people to see the nation through its progress. It’s still a bad analogy. Other than that, as much as I’d like to say that I keep an open mind to both sides, many times I know I need not be deterministic about ill intentions and rationally ask, “why do people do what they do?” and “is that worth the effort for them to do it?“.