In last month’s newsletter, I wrote rather presumptuously that Brexit would not happen. I was wrong.
The rest of the financial industry did not see it coming either because it did not make economic sense both in the short and long term for the UK. It was too illogical, but who says human beings make rational decisions….ever? I think in this stark example, the concept of the “wisdom of the crowds” being better than the selective few, proposed by author James Surowiecki, has fallen flat on its face. But then again, I am being presumptuous. Perhaps the Brexit is a good thing for the UK, and ultimately good for the world. Perhaps the masses have made the right choice and only time will be the judge.
As Great Britain is grappling with her identity, on the other side of the world, America is also trying to re-evaluate what it stands for as a nation by desperately trying to make sense and find meaning in all of the killings and shootings happening, most recently the police shootings in Dallas.
Will the violence ever stop? Will racism be eradicated? Will the hatred stop?
When I first arrived on America soil, I was very often surprised how “PC” (politically correct) everything needed to be for the fear of offending someone. You would say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and making fun of other races other than yourself was absolutely taboo and frowned upon. The only exceptions were standup comedians. They are the modern version of jesters to the king. They had the license to tell the jokes and speak the truth.
In Singapore, everyone makes fun of everyone and it is not taboo at all to poke fun at each other’s identity. Caucasians are called “ang mo” (red hair) in the Chinese dialect Hokkien, and it is a rather endearing term I think. I remember one time walking along the streets in London, and some kids shouted to me ”hey chink!” I turned around and asked myself (as a Singaporean of Chinese descent) “should I be offended?” but I was not. My husband Cameron reminds me time and time again that it is because of America’s horrible past of slavery and oppression that people are now so sensitive to the race issue. Indeed, the past affects our current behavior.
On a personal level, the recently passing of my grandfather, who died peacefully in his sleep at 94 has also made me think deeper and on an emotional level of who I am, and where I come from. The Chinese have a saying “don’t forget your roots.” The Israelites in ancient times would build monuments out of stone so that they would not forget their blessings. Just like many migrants at that time, my grandfather had traveled from China to Singapore by boat for a better life. With only a second grade education, he started his career as a rickshaw driver, and through hard work and luck got to where he was today. I must never forget that I am a recipient of his blessings.
So my friend, where are you going? And what do you want to be? Do you want to live under the shadow of fear or do you want to live your life daringly? What legacy do we want to leave behind? We have a choice you know.
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