Is There An Absolute Need to be Number One?

What if the trees in your garden can uproot themselves and walk off to the next orchard while you are asleep? I know I would get real pissed off - if I could recover from the shock. Human migration on the other hand, is nothing new. It has been ongoing perhaps since the beginning of the human race. Many of our forefathers in Singapore were migrants. For a country like Singapore which has no natural resources and land size to fall back on, human as a resource has been the most important building block behind our pillars. Therefore the quality of our people is extremely important to our survival.

If we can take a lesson from plants, we will observe how many seeds they sow. That will be way more than what nature expects them to grow and eventually mature to. More than half of the seeds will not germinate. Another half of the seedlings will not survive beyond their first months and only a handful manages to reach maturity to continue the cycle. In many ways, the population of many nations follow the same pattern as nature, not in terms of survival but the ability to mature and contribute meaningfully to their country. In most countries, it is accepted that there will be a segment of people who will fall behind and be unable to contribute. These presence of these groups are expected and included in the calculations. 

In Singapore, we do not believe in this. Since our independence, our government has turned their back on welfarism and never looked back. All of us are expected to help ourselves, excel and contribute to the country. Failures are not part of the statistics. That puts a unique level of pressure on the people of Singapore to do extremely well, for mediocrity is not acceptable. I would not fault the government for creating such as environment. I believe there is little choice but to expect an unnatural percentage of excellence from the people for a small limited country like Singapore to achieve what we have today. We wanted to achieve this vision together, that was what we wanted to be. The government, in fact, delivered.

Now that we reach where we want to be, can we live with the consequences? We do not have adequate people to strive for the greater heights we voted for, we imported foreign people to fill the gaps. Other than quality inconsistencies, there have been integration issues, inflation, overcrowding and social problems. Stress has hit record levels, along with property prices. Even the government is feeling the heat from increasingly disgruntled citizens who begin to question their authority and leadership.

It will be an eventual inevitability that the system we put our faith in like our religions will implode. Will we slow down before that happens and perhaps, learn a lesson from nature and recreate an environment where although every seed matters, not every single one of them are expected to blossom?

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