To Reason or Not to Reason – 講不講道理

講道理,作人要講道理,但道理是給兩個懂道理的人來講的。教育小孩更是如此。

To reason, we should be reasonable and to reason with people, but reason is to be reasoned by two person who knows reason. Educating children is even more so.

I’ve seen many parents try to explain and reason to their little kids. Some even try to do so to their toddlers who can barely speak, much less reason. It is funny or sad for me to see how parents seem to be expected to explain and account for their every actions and decisions while kids seem to be given a blank cheque to do as they please.

The Family Ground Rules 家規

Being born in a Chinese family, I was brought up in quite a different environment. While my parents were relatively open-minded to begin with and in many cases, entertained my “WHYs” when I was in my mid to late teens, there were many moments where they put their foot down and basically let me know that I’ve crossed the line. What line? The family ground rules (家規).

In my family, there are certain Dos and Don’ts that everyone have to observe. It is not a democracy. It is the family ground rules (家規). It is not something that we sit around and discuss how we would revise it. These may vary from family to family or clan to clan, and most parents
adapted or inherited theirs from their parents. In most cases, it was from either parents or a hybrid decided by the parents. Democrats can argue all they want, but I don’t see the whole nation go have a discussion on the constitution or the law every other day. Members of parliament (or senators in US) represent the citizens and they try their best to protect their interest. By electing them for their term of office, you trust their judgement and integrity to protect your interest. If they fail, don’t vote them the next term. Rinse. Repeat.

In the case of our parents, you did not elect them. Buddhist believe that we are all linked in some ways, some deeper than others. Parents and child are strongly linked in past lives and the links serve as a condition for this lives’ parent-child relation. So in a way, we elected with our link with people. Associate with wise people and you probably have a better chance to have wise parents (and wise kids too!). Associate with foolish or nasty folks and … …

Then there are those who are already on the path to Enlightenment and they associate with the foolish and nasty people in order to help them. Which are you? The former or latter?

I don’t know about the mechanisms for choosing parents or kids in other faiths or cultures, though I heard that the stork was responsible for people in the west.  In the past at least! :p Read More …

Discerning Reading, Responsible Journalism

Chanced upon two interesting articles in StraitsTimes:

1. Chinese factory ‘treated workers as slave labour’ – dated 15 December 2010

2. Hospital steps in to stop abuse – dated 16 December 2010

The first article about “mentally disabled workers allegedly enslaved for years in deplorable conditions (China)” was syndicated from Agence France-Presse, XINHUA while the second article was written by Kimberly Spykerman from SPH (Singapore Press Holdings).

These two articles caught my attention because while both were reporting on abuse, their respective titles focused on quite different aspects of the matters.  The first article focused on the abuse of workers by a Chinese factory while the second focused on how a hospital stopped abuse.  Granted, the context and people involved are vastly different, the subtle difference in the title can paint a very different story in the mind of many readers who merely scan through titles.

To be fair, the former article states clearly in the first paragraph of how the Chinese authorities have stepped in to shutdown said factory.  What if the title had read “Chinese authorities stepped in to shutdown factory for workers abuse”?  Would that not give a more positive impression that the Chinese government is not that different from other governments in protecting its citizens?

Consider the second article.  If it was entitled “Mentally disabled patients abused”, it would still be factual, except that it would skew the reader to focus on the abuse and perhaps even mislead one to think that these patients are abused in the hospital!  Fortunately, journalists in Singapore are more prudent when it comes to reporting.  Their reporting serve as a feedback loop that can support and aid positively, the social fabric of society or trigger a mass hysteria.

We as readers, need to be discerning in our reading.  Read the article thoroughly before forming your opinion.  And even then, remember, this is what is reported.  That is all it is.

In a similar vein, when we hear reports of people at work or among friends, we should be discerning in our hearing and not simply jump to conclusions.  Preconception about people or situations often create self-fulfilling prophesies.  If there is anything I learnt from Literature in secondary school, it was the concept of “self-fulfilling prophesies” introduced in Macbeth.  Like the king who listened to the three (witch?) sisters and later led to his own downfall (granted, many other factors are at play!), we sometimes listen to our ‘oracles’ and watch our own little ‘tragedy’ unfold.

My friend, how do you want your life to be like?  Read carefully, hear mindfully, discern wisely.

Footnote:

I noticed that the date in StraitsTimes read “Thursday, December 16, 2010”.  This follows the US date format convention.  I thought the date format convention in Singapore should read “Thursday, 16 December, 2010”?  When did StraitsTimes started adopting the US date format convention?