I figured Michelle Chong's article really hit a nerve with people on the internet who either fall into the "we lost our sense of pride in our work because" and "yah lor...these days people are..."
Have we lost our way?
We look toward the very earnest service staff in Japan, and admire how warm service is in other countries. We envy German engineering when they devote their entire lives to their trade, and see how the Nordics take their democracy very seriously.
Yet as we admire, we don't band together and do something and change our current predicament. Some might argue it's the nanny state, or the history of the government not listening to its people. We may even go so far to say we have been denied rights. All these gives us a sense of weariness that no matter how much we fight, we can never escape the gilded cage of a perceived wayang political system amidst the forest of bopian citizenry. A veneer covers our eyes, we become focused on ourselves - the big I, Me, Myself takes over. We turn to consumerism, entertainment, gossip and mindless play to distract from the sad reality that beyond the Pleasure Machine, we have very little control over our lives. Working hard insofar as it rewards our pockets and wardrobes, as long as the customer pays we don't really need to care what he/she does afterwards.
It's sad, and my personal dystopia, where people have blinkers to high that they don't realise that we are all suffering together, inspite of our selfishness, and equal powelessness against the forces of fate and state.
I think we need to step aside from the humdrum and really consider the legacy we want to leave behind. Whatever that goes out in your name, are you going to make a difference in someone's life? Will my proposal make someone's life easier, will this email or memo sent make someone smile or generate further discussions that can mutually reinforcing. It does not mean that you be "nice and polite" all the time, but people resonate with you when you care a lot about how your contributions affect others. It can be a role as a parent, sibling, friend or otherwise.
Artists inherently feel this, because the trade is performative in nature, the strive for perfection drives artists to put their best foot forward towards the light all the time. I think we should all think like artists, and treat your boardroom like an audience. We have that sense of responsibility to whoever we interact with, that we owe it to everyone's limited time and attention, to put our best work forward. You can be broke, hungry, frustrated, you can even feel a little selfish today. We all err from time to time - yet I pray we never become individualistic.
It might sound idealistic, but the Singapore I love is the hardworking hawker who is proud about his signature carrot cake, the plumber who comes in eager to solve the problem in your toilet despite his inexperience, or the MacDonald staff sneaks a couple more curry sauce for the ravenous secondary school kid with chicken nuggets for lunch.
I hope we retain the sense if responsibility towards one another, and despite the macro and micro challenges, we put aside our selfish interests, realise we are all suffering and invest a little enpathy for people other than your paycheck.