Being a respected leader doesn’t mean ruling with an iron first.
Showing compassion as a leader can be highly effective. . .according to Bill George, a Harvard professor, the leader must think about the “we” instead of the “I.” In other words, the leader doesn’t think about him/herself, but about [others].
( — JEMS Journal)
I lived in Singapore until the age of 19. I remember what it was like to constantly live with the feeling that your every move, thought, and action was being watched. Whisper something that’s anti-PAP or anti-LKY — *BOOM*, you’re in trouble.
The sense of dysfunctional paranoia these feelings can create certainly isn’t an ideal thing for anyone to live with.
Ruling by fear is wrong for several reasons, one being that no one should be made to do something or act in a way he or she doesn’t feel comfortable with.
Why should a human being’s mind/heart/spirit be subject to being controlled by an authority figure? Wouldn’t a true “saviour of the people” sincerely care for the well-being of the populace they have pledged to serve?
This isn’t applicable to the realm of politics alone. It is something that goes much deeper which has universal resonance in terms of being free to:
- be your own self,
- have your own thoughts, and
- speak your mind or speak truth to power when it is necessary to do so.
Fear is a crippling weapon of control and manipulation. To overcome that fear is to release oneself from the shame of being ruled by fear.
Many people in history have literally died for their beliefs. Integrity and a moral conscience are things that some of us are unwilling or unable to trade for elitist commodities.
I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t predict the outcome of the next general election in Singapore. I don’t have expectations of the result, because whatever will be, will be.
But seeing this fear of expression up-close from numerous Singaporeans is proof that people DO have strong opinions, that they do have minds and a spirit that yearns to be free from the shackles of an authoritarian power (whether it’s referred to as an aristocracy, a pseudo-democracy, or fascist).
If we allow the government, the police and the law, to continue to censor us, to use archaic laws to dictate our ideas and our views, to use fear to threaten us into not expressing our views, then though I am a prisoner, when freedom cannot be granted to me, you are a prisoner although freedom is granted to you. And that’s more saddening than any number of months or years in jail that I have to endure.
Buried beneath this fear is a collective need to aspire for something better — if not for yourself, then for the future generations that will come after you.
An article by Catherine Lim points out how a “compliant, fearful population that has never learnt to be politically savvy could spell the doom of Singapore.”
Singapore has been under decades of authoritarian rule. Do you want to see it through several more?
As Julie Hanus writes on the forward-thinking Utne Reader:
We can give up allowing fears to define us, and focus instead on which ones are worth tackling together. When we do that, we don’t just free politicians from fear-inducing rhetoric; we also give ourselves some much-needed relief.
I think of the dark events in Singapore’s political history (Operation Coldstore and Spectrum, in particular), and all the wasted years, hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled because of fear. That alone inspires my interest in socio-political issues.
There comes a point where staying silent would be the real crime.
Instead of feeling shameful about not having done enough: just do something different today. Time is short and precious.
May you find your bolt of inspiration too, that will set you free from fear itself.
+ + +
1. Fear is Dead (Teo Soh Lung)
2. #FreeAmosYee: Hong Lim Park Protest (TOC)
3. Self-Censorship & The Climate of Fear (Catherine Lim)
4. PAP’s “Internet Brigade” (TOC)
+ + +
“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.”
+ + +