I’d like to believe that wisdom gained is proportional to the number of people you meet and really get to know. Sights and sounds are determined by the places you’ve been to, but life stories and experiences are truly unique to each and every soul you meet in your life. It’s with this high regard for the individual that I consider the collective — people — to be the solid and steadfast foundation of what we call Society.
In its purest definition, ‘society’ encompasses many facets, probably including many of the other topics in this 9 part series comparing life in America and Singapore. But fundamentally it’s people who created society, hence they shall be the focus for today.
Belonging to the racial majority in Singapore tends to smog up my view of how people function and interact. If no man is an island, then 4 million on one really small island is sure to result in massive complications as far as human relationships go, right? Not exactly. For all her quiet boasting of being multi-racial and harmonious, Singapore has only three major races and the largest slice of the pie is as big as 70%. There are few blacks, and almost no Jews, though whites are increasing (whether they are here for the women or work is irrelevant). New-borns are groomed to be overachievers from the start, and in specific fields no less. Life experiences hardly vary beyond living in different neighborhoods.
What do they say about the U.S? That you’re not white, black, yellow, dark — you’re American. I’m no law student, but I believe it’s there in the Constitution that every one is equal in this land, and at least to a certain extent, the people do try to fulfill that promise. Even if genuine relationships are hard to foster, Americans surprisingly offer a lot of courtesy (holding the door, patient driving, better service), and to complete the package are just better conversationalists. This isn’t apparent to many, but the U.S is by far the new center of the world. Forget Rome or Constantinople; it’s in the land of the free where you meet every one from North Korean refugees to Apartheid victims from South Africa.
If you truly want to be a citizen of the world, America is a good place to start.
Score: USA 3 — Singapore 3
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