The organised chaos

Are Singaporeans an unforgiving lot?

This afternoon I finally dragged my wearied body to visit the good ‘ol doc.

At the traffic junction, I waited together with a middle-aged mother and her two small children, who looked like they were no more than ten years of age. As we stood there, I overheard the irate mother rebuking her son, “You forgot to put the ‘s’ in 90 cents and your teacher took one mark away from you. It’s not half a mark but one full mark, okay. That’s 39 out of 40. One full mark for forgetting the ‘s’ in 90 cents.”

As the son tried to defend himself by saying he forgot and will remember it for all his life, the mother cut him off and repeated the same mantra, “You forgot the ‘s’ in 90 cents and your teacher deducted one mark from you. One full mark, you know, not even half a mark. That’s why you have 39 out of 40. It was one full mark, not half a mark.”

Thankfully, for me, the traffic lights turned and I tried to walk away as quickly as possible. But behind me, I could still hear her verbal tirade, expressing annoyance at her son’s carelessness at forgetting the ‘s’ in 90 cents.

For God’s sake, it was just a small mistake, need the mother run down her son so badly? That poor boy had gotten 39 out of 40, which is a really good grade. Wasn’t it enough to just tell him he ought not to be so careless in future and teach him why you need the ‘s’ in 90 centS?

And now we know why this society is so unforgiving of mistakes. As Confucius believes, everything starts with the building block called family. If within the family, such abhorrent attitude exists, it is of no surprise that this attitude extends beyond the parameters of the family and reaches to the society. If we cannot even forgive such minute mistakes, how can the individual grow to be creative? How will the individual dare to be different and learn that the tried and tested route might not be the best way after all? Will the individual learn from past mistakes and go on to cultivate more innovative ideas if every little error he makes is slapped into his face at every opportunity?

I find such parents narrow-sighted and pathetic. A Picasso or Shakespeare might be stifled because of such rigid and unforgiving attitude.