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Yes and No

We live in a world of duality, and sometimes, things aren’t really black and white. Most of the time, we live in a grey zone, or perhaps more interestingly, a multicoloured zone that is as brilliant as a rainbow.

Ever lived in a world where someone pointed out a mistake you made at the workplace and you thought to yourself, “Oh gosh, how could I have missed that?” Sometimes, our peers or colleagues or supervisors or big boss aren’t so gracious, or sometimes, we ourselves are our own harshest critics. We may tend to pick on ourselves apart to bits and pieces, and we wonder why the world looks so bleak and bleary at times, or why we even exist for being such a failure.

Why are we sometimes harsh on ourselves? We need to ask ourselves this question. Is it because we imagine others will come down hard on us if we don’t shape up according to their expectations, so we choose to be harsh on ourselves first to save ourselves from possible criticisms from others? Is it because we grew up in a largely unforgiving culture where we are punished or penalised for the slightest error we made? Or is it because we have a perfectionist attitude, which may well be a sign of not wanting to deal with our inner insecurities and anxieties?

Today, we are going to talk about mistakes we commonly make in editing, or in publishing in general. As long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes here and there. We are not machines. Even if we are, machines are finite or limited too, and are subject to an odd malfunction or two, no matter how well designed or maintained they are.

In publishing, we are encouraged to minimise mistakes or produce error-free materials. To put it in another way, we are discouraged from making mistakes. In this world we live in, where capitalism runs the world, where meritocracy runs the gauntlet (this expression came to mind, though I don’t really know what it means), and where our value and worth and earning potential is (are?) often tied to how well we perform, there seems little or no room for errors or weaknesses in the workplace.

In this session, we are going to talk about mistakes and confess that each of us makes mistakes. We are going to learn to embrace mistakes as part of our human existence, and accept imperfections as part of our whole being.

Does that mean that I am encouraging you to make more mistakes in editing and publishing? The answer is: neither yes nor no, or yes and no, depending on how you look at it. Yes, only by acknowledging we make mistakes can we learn from them and be responsible for doing better next time. No, we know that making mistakes – whether one mistake or many mistakes – can have less than positive consequences, such as being graded poorly in performance appraisal, or not leaving a good impression on readers who buy our materials, and so on.

But the way to deal with mistakes and maintain a high quality of materials in a healthy way is not to stress ourselves out trying to avoid making mistakes or to deny our imperfections or hide our imperfections. Because one, we will continue to struggle with a sense of insecurity, inferiority (which is superiority on the flip side of the coin) and low self-esteem. Two, it can lead to a blame and denial culture. We need to learn to take ownership of ourselves – the good and the bad. Three, blaming invariably leads to shaming, whether others or ourselves. It may become a vicious cycle of blaming and shaming, and the way out is to deal with mistakes at the root.

You see, many workshops and training sessions focus on the effects rather than the root causes. They focus on “do this” and “don’t do that”. There is a place for that, but we are mostly dealing with the issue on the surface or on a superficial level. It causes us to forget who we really are and put us on a stressful treadmill to become something or someone whom we already are.

For example, the system or mindset of the world tells us “If you do this, you will become someone. If you produce zero-error materials, you will become a world-class editor.”

Let me tell you who you are already. You are already a world-class editor. This is your true identity. Now, live and work based on who you really are. Yes, you will still make mistakes but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a world-class editor. The more you believe and remember this is who you are, the more your thinking and actions will align based on your self-belief.

 

 

Posted in Equality, Racism, Uncategorized

Embracing diversity in skin colours

A colleague happened to share about National Geographic’s article “Being Black in China“, which opens up new perspectives. She commented that we ourselves can become a “tourist attraction” when we visit countries where we are considered a rarity, just as we find tourists who visit Singapore who don’t look like us to be a novelty.
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I find that race is becoming more openly discussed nowadays, which is a good thing because it helps people to understand each other’s differences and accept the fact that we are all different and we are all the same. For example, I came across a recent article in which racism and racial privilege (such as Chinese privilege in Singapore) are highlighted, which hopefully will encourage an ongoing conversation among people about such issues, in order for justice and equality to manifest more fully through conscious awareness.
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I learnt that in the West, White people have been challenging themselves to deal with anti-Black racism, and this video is an attempt to open up conversations about such racial issues and how parents can educate their kids to embrace differences and diversity in skin colours. Though the way the mother in the above video educates her child may not be wholly appropriate or scientific, and her perspectives about Black people as a White privileged person may be considered offensive to some in spite of her good intentions, the efforts of the video makers in fostering a positive perception of People of Colour in order to combat racism that has been taught from generation to generation are noteworthy.
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Ultimately, we are all in this together as one humanity, and as this article noted, we all originated from the same Motherland – the cradle of humanity – once upon a time, and through evolutionary adaptations to climate and environment, we have been developing shades of colour alongside with our unique cultures and languages, and may we all continue to stay united as one.
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Tennis inspirations

​I am inspired and moved to tears by how Venus Williams supports her younger sister to succeed. 

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-28/australian-open-serena-williams-beats-venus-in-final/8220242

http://elitedaily.com/sports/venus-williams-speech-losing-serena/1770859/
The above story of the Williams sisters and how they succeed together to become world champions in tennis is the reason I have been following their news whenever I get a chance because the love and support they have for each other and the dreams they hold on to in spite of challenges are mind-blowing and inspirational. For too long, competitive sports have been marred by rivalry and jealousy, but it is thanks to such gracious and big-hearted sportswomen and sportsmen such as the Williams sister, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that makes tennis so refreshing and compelling to watch and follow. In the Australian Open women’s tennis final, Venus Williams could have chosen to seek her own glory but I believe she chose to let her little sister win and fulfil her dream of getting a world record of 23 Grand Slam titles in open competition era, and that speaks volumes of her graciousness and love. Like she said, Serena’s win has always been her win. Similarly, to my beloved: your success is my success, and your joy is my joy. I truly want you to flourish and prosper in the areas you find fulfilment to do so. 

Posted in Equality, Freedom, Uncategorized

What is freedom? Are meritocracy and citizenship necessary?

When I was a trainee undergoing Leadership Training Camp in Pulau Ubin in my first year of junior college, I looked at some of the seniors with wistfulness when they were rowing a wooden raft and enjoying themselves while we trainees were suffering from physical exhaustion. I longed to experience freedom like they do. Maybe when I become an adult, I will have that kind of freedom to do what I enjoy, or so I had thought. But years later, I still find myself grappling with the notion of freedom – for some reasons, I don’t feel completely free to be myself or to be fully at peace with myself and the world around me.

It has been said that “no one is free until (or unless) all are free.” Is that why I don’t really feel completely free? How to be really happy when I am aware that there are others out there still suffering from injustice or discrimination? Then again, will that day ever happen when all are free? Will I always have to postpone my happiness indefinitely? I know Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to live in the present moment and be thankful for that moment. Maybe I have to give myself permission to be truly happy so that it sends peaceful, healing energetic vibrations to those who are still struggling.

I am coming to think that when Buddha attains enlightenment or Nirvana, it is not only for himself or herself. Maybe Buddha knows that by liberating ourselves first, we can liberate others. Maybe the concept of merit-based karma isn’t completely selfish – maybe we do good to ourselves and others not so much to accumulate good karma and better rebirth for ourselves but also to show others that a better way and a better world is possible, and we ourselves can make it happen. Maybe our motivation for helping others can come from the understanding that we are all interconnected, hence when we help others, we are helping ourselves, and when we help ourselves, we are also helping others because we are all one.

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Speaking of motivation, I am reticent to subscribe (wholly) to the national approach to “meritocracy” and “citizenship”.

Regarding meritocracy, do we necessarily get motivated to do things or to work hard in order to get rewards? Isn’t this an ableist approach to try to compete in a system that says “survival of the fittest”? Wouldn’t meritocracy result in people thinking they are more deserving than others because they are more able to do something? Wouldn’t it lead to elitism, classism, arrogance and snobbishness and cause us to look down on others who  have done less or achieved less than us, or to feel inferior if we think we don’t measure up to others who have done more or achieved more than us? I would also venture to say that meritocracy can lead to repression when we feel shamed or compelled to hide our inherent human weaknesses from the society or from public view in an attempt to look good, moral and “incorruptible”.

Regarding citizenship, I understand that this concept may arise from our fundamental need to belong to something or some group or tribe. I can understand and relate to the need for belonging as it may be hardwired in our genes the moment we are born to want to have a sense of belonging. However, as much as it is a valid need to belong to a community, do we need to have a formal citizenship in order to consider ourselves as belonging to a particular nation or country? Do we as human beings only have access to basic rights such as shelter or housing, healthcare and so on only when we are considered citizens of a nation? Wouldn’t a stateless person have the same human rights as a citizen in any land or country to have access to these rights?

In essence, if a government’s definition of citizenship is borrowed or adapted from imperialism, it implies that the indigenous people usually have less rights than those who are considered citizens who conform to the system, and their indigenous lifestyle and habitats are often being infringed upon or sacrificed whenever the government wants to clear their land and resettle them in the name of “development”, on the pretext of “doing what is good for the society”.

 

Posted in Equality, Uncategorized

Competition is violence, and so is class

Lately, the more I think about competitive sports, or competition in general, the more I realise that competition is violence. Competitive sports, whether it be running, cycling or tennis (all of which are my favourite sports), both supports and sanctions violence.

Competition reduces other people who are seen as competitors or opponents to nothing more than obstacles that stand in our way to become “winners” or “victors”. They cease to be fellow human beings in our minds. And when we beat them in a contest or competition, they have to deal with the stigma of being seen as losers or failures in the eyes of many. The reverse is also true for ourselves: when we “lose” in a competition, we tend to feel less than humans; we feel unworthy and ashamed of ourselves or disappointed with ourselves for not living up to expectations or measuring up to some perceived standards (which are actually arbitrary and subjective in nature).

The same goes for class, which propagates the illusion of separateness, entitlement and superiority. Anything that puts down another person is ultimately violent, whether it be in the form of competitive sports, classism, etc.

Posted in Uncategorized

Waking Up is Hard to Do: The Dark Side of Enlightenment By: Will Donnelly

“Carl Jung, the famed Swiss psychiatrist, believed our main task in life was to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential through a journey of transformation he called individuation. It was a journey that allowed the individual to meet the self and the Divine at the same time. Roughly, it amounts to accepting your dark and light energies.

Jung explains: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.””

Evolutionary_Mystic Post


What does it mean to wake up, to be a fully realized human being? For those of us who might consider ourselves everyday people with a spiritual inclination, enlightenment can sound so alluring, so desirable.

As we lean in the direction of our awakening by listening to our higher yearnings, and as we consciously and slowly awaken by paying attention to all that is happening around us in our world, it must be said that this shared human longing to be free is, to me, like carrying a burden. Now that simple racist comment at the office bugs us, those slights toward the masculine woman or effeminate man make us feel more and more uncomfortable, etc., as we begin to wonder how those who are impacted by this type of non-physical abuse might feel.

We awaken to the understanding that those who say hurtful things would certainly say them against…

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My views on Southeast Asian Games 2015

Below are my answers to an online survey in www.yougov.com

Q: Why do you feel neutral/negative about the SEA Games 2015?

It seems to be part of the competitive system that tends to divide people rather than create true unity among humanity. Rivalry and competition fuel the capitalistic money-making business, and competitive sports tends to distract people from social and humanitarian issues. Sports has its place and can be beneficial in some ways, but the commercialisation and glorification that come with it can be detrimental to the process of loving and accepting ourselves and others for who we really are.

Q: Why are you neutral/unsupportive towards Team Singapore athletes’ efforts in SEA Games 2015?

Ultimately, we can be our own best versions of ourselves, and no one is intrinsically better or worse than others. We are more than our national identities – we are all one human race. I don’t consider myself a Singaporean at my deepest core, so I don’t support Singapore or any other nation, as nationality is an artificial, man-made, illusory human construct that doesn’t exist in reality.

Posted in Uncategorized

The power of laughter and tears

10411060_953645728025906_5869112378873240609_n chaplin

Yes, laughter and tears are the very emblem of the essence of our humanity, which holds the power to be an antidote to hatred and terror indeed. It reminds me of an impassioned speech by Charlie Chaplin, which I came across some time ago, in which he also spoke about how the world, in the face of wars and violence, needs to recover humanity and universal brotherhood.

Posted in Uncategorized

Psychoanalysis of early life trauma

school meme 2

On looking back, it looks like the public school education system that I grew up in has far more repercussions than I probably realised. The need (or the pressure) to keep up an appearance of performing, whether in studies or socialising or participating in discussions or conversations, seem relentlessly pervasive in every aspect of our lives. Why was I shunned or ignored in schools, or later in life, in social outings such as care group meetings? It seems that to be popular and extroverted is the goal of many of my peers. If friendship were to be built on such superficiality, I would rather be not part of it. On hindsight, maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t – and couldn’t – fit into the crowd, as much as it felt painful then.