Why bochup is wrong

20120913-234253.jpg

Driving home today W and I got into a sort of fight/debate on Consumerism and social classes.

Well, not just about the concept of Consumerism in general (there was a lot of that too) but it all started because I said I don’t get how some tai-tais (@highbrow socialite types) can spend their whole life living in their own little bubble where they only care about the next bag they buy, the next gala they would attend and where next they should holiday.

Now, I’m all for living well if you have the means to, but I find it hard to comprehend when someone lives life utterly oblivious to how the rest of the world is faring. I recall a conversation with a (very) wealthy acquaintance from a developing (Southeast Asian) country a while back on the plight of poverty in her country. And her response: “You mean there’s that kind of poverty here? You must be kidding right? Things can’t be that bad.”

That’s like saying, since I live in a house/HDB in Singapore, there can’t possibly be people who find it hard on a day to day to make ends meet. I mean, really, right? *rolls eyes*

Or another that told me: I wanted to go charity work so I went to help out at an old folks’s home. But it was too smelly, to the point that I threw up. So, I decided giving money was easier. After all, it’s the same.

That’s like saying, I’ll just attend a gala that raises money for (fill in the blank charity) and that’s good enough. Cos, you know, at least at the gala, no one stinks or smells bad. Yeah, the real world works like that.

Or the ladies who quip: I bought this (branded) bag for only two thousand dollars ok. It’s for rough use anyway.

Yes, lady, cos two thousand dollars is chum change to the average joe.

I will be the first to admit that I live well, and yes, I like that I am able to go to any grocery store and buy whatever I feel like buying without really having to worry about the price on an item. It is not a habit to have to go to the cheapest source of, say, salmon. I simply shop where convenient. And while I don’t make dining fancy a habit, I do enjoy a nice meal at the next Michelin starred restaurant to celebrate my wedding anniversary. But I am acutely aware that it is a privilege and luxury, I am grateful to be able to enjoy. I work hard for my money, I live honestly and I remind myself to always be thankful.

As the conversation unfolded, W- who is generally more amiable that I am about these things, reminded me that people were entitled to lead their lives as they so choose. (I reckon maybe my husband thinks i can be quite a kay-poh.) And to expect people to care beyond themselves was taking a *gasp* self righteous stance and that I should live and let live.

That silenced me for a while (it seemed like a long time, but I think maybe it was more like 3 minutes; but to me that’s like a long time) and I said that I really don’t feel that it is wrong to “judge” someone who will not think about the greater world cos “it’s easier/simpler that way.” Far from self-righteous, how can I even BE ok with someone I know behaving that way.

Edmund Burke famously said: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Silence is so often acquiescence and acceptance. To say, it’s perfectly fine for someone to live SO well and NOT care beyond themselves and their other equally fabulously wealthy and oblivious friends is wrong.

I know of many well heeled families who make it their life’s work to do good. They run foundations, they give scholarships, they personally spend time and effort with those that need. Sure they have their fair share of fancy bags, branded shoes, sports cars, big houses; but they are so very aware that because they have been so blessed, they have to give back.

Just yesterday I sent an old friend from Myanmar (they run the orphanage we visit) to one of their sponsors/friend who lives in a HUGE mansion. It was to confirm scholarships for 350 needy kids. Said wealthy family, also spends specially carved out personal time working on the ground. It is easy to give money, it’s infinitely harder to give of our time and efforts.

I don’t have the formula right (yet), I think. I might never get there and will most likely be a work in progress permanently. There is a lot about life I still have to learn, experience. But I truly and deeply feel that we cannot be content and oblivious just because we are in a good/great place. The world has to matter to us. I’m not saying go support every single cause that comes your way; I’m saying you gotta live life being aware that you are part of a greater humanity, and that humanity is everyone’s fight.

*end rant*

Advertisements

stand up for our mothers

A friend of mine was part of a rather meaningful movement this past National Day; the Stand Up for Singapore program to encourage Singaporeans to act graciously towards mothers and the elderly.

It started with a fairly simple notion, that there has been far too many examples of people behaving badly towards the elderly and pregnant moms on public transport and that instead of (publicly) stomping on them, they wanted to focus on the nicer side to Singaporeans: the willingness to BE gracious to these two groups of people through the simple act of giving up your seat to them whilst on buses, trains and other waiting areas. They, after all, need it more than the average abled bodied person.

I cottoned on to this a little late but though it was not something I suffered whilst pregnant with both my boys, I have many friends who do take public transport daily and have feedback that people start to look through them  as if they were invisible while they are riding on the buses and trains. Sometimes, these seat hoggers (like the pigs?) pretend to be asleep so that they don’t have to give up their seats; even if they are seated in the priority seat.

So, to help them raise awareness, especially amongst the mothers, I’ve bought some of their {for mothers) t-shirts to give to my playgroup mummies and other mummy friends. You guys will be getting yours soon!

The Growing Tree Gives Back: Card Campaign

Those who know me know what a big crafter I am. Strictly speaking, while I do scrapbooking, I don’t scrap as much as I craft. I make things: cupboards, books, pots, diaper and towel cakes…etc.   thanks to my meeting some truly amazing craft-loving charity-minded people; the chance to be part of a myriad of craft based charity work came about, I jumped at the chance to get wholly involved.

Our first project was in partnership with the Make a Card Campaign for the Needy. Most recently, their Valentine’s Day cards were donated to several charities who in turn, sold them to raise funds.

There was a recent call for a new card drive for “Thank You” cards; most of which are for charities as they gear up for International Volunteer’s Day (3rd quarter) and some to be curated and packaged for sale at various fund raising events.

I knew that many of my friends feel that they don’t have a clue how to begin, so I decided to take the guess work out of card making for them and created card kits (of varying difficulties). These are complete kits to make/assemble 10 cards- all they would need is craft glue. The designs are also simple enough for toddlers to get involved to. And my team  of colleagues gamely chipped in to make the said packs with me!

I roped in my mummy’s group who all enthusiastically joined in. Some had never crafted in their lives, some brought their little ones over and in the midst of playtime and catch-up chats, we crafted. So many that I now am able to route some to other causes.

At last tally, we will make close to 450 cards amongst the group of us, far more than expected and I now have enough to route to other charities that have use for them.

How great! 🙂