"As you read this, I hope you will understand that when I speak of the long night that preceded these days of my happiness, I do not remember grief and loneliness as much as I do peace and comfort -- grief, but never without comfort; loneliness, but never without peace. Almost never."
--- Marilynne Robinson in Gilead
Trigger warning: Talk about world events beyond individual control. Skip to after photo if it might be too much :>
As I begin to write, I am wondering if it is the case that the world just got so much more strife and violence, or that I have merely just 'grown up' to care more and feel more responsible now that I have so much more resources at my disposal compared to when I was a child?
The crises in Yemen and South Sudan which feel like they have become an accepted normal... to the military coup in Myanmar, and now the Taleban takeover in Afghanistan. Instagram is an incongruent source of news, because I follow climate/environmental advocacy voices and recently a ground-up journalistic account to report what is 'really happening' in Myanmar. Interspersed between these posts are photos of happy people, food recommendations and plants. I have been reminding myself to spend some moments attuning to whether I am ready to receive whatever news from my phone when I pick it up, be it to check messages or Instagram.
Such is the nature of the modern [wo]man in our hyper-connected world. I wonder about the future generations' relationship with such information that is so readily accessible, shared through social media. How will they cope?
But woah.. this post wasn't meant to be talking about this grim stuff. Not exclusively anyway, as evidenced from the post title. I am having a really good mental health break from the PhD after a tough week. The quote above reflects that tranquil joy I feel, when things inside me settle and I feel at peace with myself and my little labours for this world. My heart is ready to give and love again. And my imagination is stirred with thoughts about where my little labours can be directed to. So I started on this post to jot them down quickly for future me:
1. From my reflections on Isaiah 5:8- It struck me that the gross misuse of wealth is also the sin of individualism and self-centredness. "until you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land"- The houses and fields that were meant to be allotted to specific families in Israel so that each family will be living together side-by-side, each having enough. But because of the devouring of land by the rich, the poor are forced out of the land.
---> Was wondering if we as God's people have perpetuated this injustice, even if we have not swallowed land or resources/means for a decent living from the poor. If we use a sociological lens, might we see that our individual actions for our own/ our loved ones' benefit contribute to the conditions for deprivation? E.g. People with resources sending their children for tuition, or even in our daily talk, what we signal that we value or has dignity? What do we celebrate?
This got me thinking that Hey, what if each family who is sending their child to whatever enrichment or tuition, also commits to sending another child from a family with less resources for the same thing? It started off with thinking perhaps this can be something I do for future hypothetical child haha... And then was imagining how it would be like if it could be at a neighborhood level. So when parents send their child to whatever programme, they can send the other child also. Or better still, the other child's parents can be the one to send both children so that its mutual help.
So that is reflection/idea no. 1.
2. Someone shared a link to an event on the migrant worker issue in Singapore. As I read the event description and noted how interesting it is that the 2 speakers are fiction authors, I was reminded about my belief that shaping minds through ideas is one of the most powerful ways to shape the world.
Ah, this belief was a significant realization that confirmed my 'calling' to pursue this PhD! Writers that compose and communicate ideas through different mediums are so important in shaping our collective imaginations towards a better society. Imagining how insignificantly powerful it is for a child to be absorbed into a world of fiction that also communicates how to treat another person (especially someone different or distant) with gentle kindness, or to care for nature.
That got me musing, what if I switched to become a writer after this PhD? There are transferable skills involved- like researching on the contexts and background information to craft a good fiction book. Ah, but I wouldn't want to work in solitude again haha...
Tranquil joy at current labours even as I imagine what more I can do :)