29 Jun 2014

The Melting Pot Boils

Funny how Singapore likes to talk about her multi-racial multi-religious society living in harmonious coexistence, and yet has had a few not-so-pleasant clashes in ideology and culture.

Generational gaps and conflicts. Anti-PAP and/or anti-democracy anarchists. The place of LGBTs in society. Foreigners versus locals.

Quite a while back I did talk about how we should move beyond tolerance and perhaps go into acceptance. Basically I said that tolerance is merely just keeping silent, but not necessarily being peaceful about the differences between groups. Just because you don't hear people making blatant remarks inciting racism or anti-religion ideas doesn't mean none of them are thinking it.

Well the thing is that more and more are daring to make some noise about their beliefs, no matter which side. More are willing to take it to the comments sections of social media platforms. And some are even bold enough to not hide behind the mask of anonymity. Signs of the changing virtues valued by modern generations, I suppose.

And it's no longer sufficient to just tell everyone to pipe it down. It's merely a symptomatic treatment. And a pretty temporary one at that. The debates may get silenced for a while, but something will spark them back to life again.

There's one thing we can do: listen.

A big reason why we would still see some arguing going on about certain ideologies is that those on both sides don't feel sufficiently heard by the opposition, or by the bystanders. Their points aren't brought across fully. The misunderstanding still drags on. So if there are avenues for all to come together and really listen to each other - like actually comprehend the points brought across and refrain from immediately rebutting or resorting to emotional warfare - then the meeting of minds can get less messy.

If nobody feels they're getting heard at all, then the noise will just grow and grow, and any attempts to keep the noise down will be retaliated. And then the controversial issue in question will really explode. Slander, mud-slinging, accusation, rumour-mongering, who knows what they will resort to just to "win the war"?

You can't just dump cold water into a boiling pot to lower the temperature, or it'll cause a spillover. You need to learn how to turn down the heat.