Monday, August 08, 2011

A Reminder

I finally turned up at a library- the library at Esplanade. A start, at least, to try to borrow books instead of buying them. Browsing through the shelves, I picked out 'The Journal of American Drama and Theatre's Winter 2011, Volume 23 Number 1'.

It wasn't for loan. This is a journal, a discourse, so it would take a good 2 hours to go through that. Okay. I wasn't in a hurry. I enjoyed thumbing through Lynn M. Thomson's Boiled in Oil: Recipes for Parody in Two Early George S. Kaufman Plays, Jeffrey Stephens' Negotiations and Exchanges: Alan Schneider, Our Town, and Theatrical Détente, and Lynn Nottage Barbara Ozieblo's "Pornography of Violence" : Strategies of Representation in Plays by Naomi Wallace, Stefanie Zadravec.

What I truly enjoyed, is Michael Winetsky's Historical and Performative Liberalism in Susan Glaspell's Inheritors. The play is one that strongly crosses both literary and political realms. The sheer number of themes it covers, is mind-boggling. As a young student then, I didn't fully understand the concept of free speech and the tenacity of individual beliefs. But it awakened something within and subsequently stirred all interest in this genre of plays.

"Dewey argues that a democratic government depends on the character of its people, and that character is formed by education. // A democratic government empowers the people, but the people must be educated in order to best execute their authority."

So clearly, while discussing Inheritors, one can't discount the influence of Thoreau's 'Civil Disobedience', and John Dewey's (liberal) political theories. A good recap in this essay by Michael Winetsky. Dewey is heavily referenced in it. Of course, I'm thoroughly fascinated by the reminder of what democracy is, as a political ideal. Recent world events indicate that democracy, and I firmly believe this, is perceived differently by different peoples and governments, and when applied, will eventually evolve, and deviate from the ideal, moving towards a model that ultimately nobody really wants.

"Dewey writes: "The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful unless those who elect and those who obey their governors are educated.... But there is a deeper explanation. A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. The extension in space of the number of individuals who participate in an interest [a government, a particular cause, or enterprise] so that each has to refer his own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own, is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity..."

Is it a full-fledged democracy that I want for Singapore? No. Not at this point. Our people aren't ready. Our politicians aren't ready. Our systems aren't ready. But I'd like to see a gradual move away from an authoritarian governing position of 'Papa knows best'. There're policies which I disagree with. Such strong is the disagreement that it contributes towards the firm notion of why I do not want to have children and raise them in this country. I'm Singaporean and I'll never give that up. I'd like to see a healthier climate of calm, collected yet passionate, logical, astute and mature political discourse within homes, civil societies and social gatherings. I'd like to see our people have a greater acceptance of lifestyle choices and see that if your children choose to be a musician or a painter, it's not a family embarrassment or disappointment. We've nothing like that here. Which is exactly why I don't like going out to run-of-the-mill social dos. The conversation inevitably bores me to tears.

For a start, our politicians ought to really stop talking to us as though we're uneducated fools who're swayed by everything that glitters. I find it a little puzzling that at a community event, a politician had to 'talk' to people in this paternal way and "called on Singaporeans to be prudent and reiterated the need to "save for a rainy day"..." and even gave examples "not[ing] that the United States and Europe are in debt because they do not save, and worse, have spent their future earnings." Hello, I've huge issues with your idea of CPF which has been the most useless fund in my portfolio for years. Languishing. Anyway.

Said politician was also quoted to in stirring 'food for thought' by asking, "So, Singaporeans have to decide - do you always want to hear pleasant things even though they are dishonest?" I could give him many different answers. But there's only one thought. I speak for myself and some friends. Yes, we'd say. We're discerning enough, and if a politician is dishonest, we can tell. We're not that dumb, you know. Like you, we've been given a wonderful education. We can put that to good use. National Day, belongs to us, more than it's an opportunity for you to celebrate a long period of majority party rule. This electorate isn't as careless as you think.


Cavalock said...

Exactly! I saw that 'save for a rainy day' headline and i dunno whether to laugh or cry. It's common sense, it's like saying you need to eat at sometime during the day. It's something your parents taught you when you were a little kid! End rant.

sinlady said...

every nation gets the government it deserves - joseph de maistre

i believe that.

imp said...

cavalock: CRY. So silly.

sinlady: not fair to a percentage of people though. Haizzzzz.

Anonymous said...

was wondering when you'll write on that. :)

imp said...

tuti: when the right time comes along, or if i'm inspired, i will! :) what luck to pick up the journal which fit perfectly into the theme!