Make Singapore Known for Graciousness and Magnanimity

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A family whom I managed to help link up with a CEO to get much needed furniture in the house back in 2012. Under the City Care program I had the privilege to mentor the mom’s (in the picture above) 3rd son who was discharged from a home.

It was a defining moment for me when the family were thanking me. Even the eldest brother looked me up in camp to thank me and gave me updates about the family. Through this I know I have made an impact to the family…

Lately there has been this increasing trend of internet bashing where Singaporeans criticize others for their lifestyles. One being participating (and spending money) in the zombie walk. While the thought may seem good, the method of delivery or even the intent may not be so. While we desire to see more good in society and to get others to do so, we must understand that not everybody shares the same passion to do good. And we are entitled to how we spend and live our life… How does criticizing encourage people to do good or give to the poor? While I would like to engage in social work and give to the needy, I don’t criticize my friends for the lack of volunteering or giving.

Abase and abound. From here, we accept people just the way they are, but we continue to do good on the individual level anyway.

Lead by example. There is a Christian proverb that says ‘Show me your faith apart of your works and I will show you my faith by my works.’ Singaporeans seems to be coming to a point where they easily criticize and find fault in others. Some then use ‘good thoughts’ like slamming people for not doing good with their money, to mask their intent and make it ‘well-meaning’. If we really want to see change, we make THE change. Make a difference yourself. Others will see the impact and whether they follow suit is entirely up to them. But many will follow after.

Let’s build a Singapore that is gracious and magnanimous, not a Singapore where we nitpick at each other.

To volunteer with City Care, click here.

Instagram For The Win!

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And so I just came back from exile and like a prisoner too accustomed to darkness finding difficulty adjusting his eyes to the light, I am still learning how to find my way around all the social media platforms. One such platform is…. Instagram! I love it that I can post photos of what inspires me, or puts me in the crazed poet state. And so, I get to post interesting photos that caught my attention, plus write about it there, with much ease that WordPress cannot provide or compare. Plus, there’s editing properties that touches up the photos taken by the less-than-ideal camera that came with the S3. Not that I am forsaking my abode at WordPress, writing on WordPress will always be one of my joys [and hates because I devote a lot of time, energy and effort to research and find out on the subject topic I’ve picked] which I used to talk about issues that holds a place in my heart.

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Still, the truth is, I am out of time. No, I’m not dying. I have just entered a phase in my life called University life [and hopefully work life, so if you’re an employer, employ me la okay, okay, okay?] Enrolled in Murdoch’s Bachelor in Communications and Media and Public Relations double major programme, I am really hard-pressed for time. I am a firm believer that if we start on something, we should endeavor to not just complete it, but to complete it with excellence. Not a guy who’s particularly good with multitasking, I will have to sacrifice on some fronts to make up for school [and work, please God I need a job].

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So please forgive me if this space is empty for prolonged periods of time. Still, you can still see condensed versions of what goes on in my mind through my Instagram account. I was told by a friend that I write too much on Instagram though, so… not that I really care. But I was told by other friends that they love what I write. Herein lies my thoughts, musings and anecdotes about faith, hope, love, having a positive spirit, stuff like that. My last Instagram entry on THE MARRIAGE, THE VOW AND THE RING reached my highest recorded writings on Instagram with a total of 384 words.. So… sign up for an Instagram account! And follow me, walk with me and see things from my perspective. Plus I ‘write a lot’ for some Instagram posts, so you’re getting bang for buck! Kinda. It’s not all dead serious stuff. Some are just plain lame and stupid, or funny. I think you will like it.

I have some really sensitive topics I would like to address on WordPress, but that will have to wait till my term break. Be blessed and take care!

Reuel Write’s Instagram ID: reueleugene

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Pocket-size Devotional: The Caller And The Listener

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DEVOTION DATED 2 OCTOBER 2012

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you says the LORD.
Jeremiah 29:12-14

I pray with assurance, knowing that You hear me. I confess with confidence, knowing that you have already prepared         [               ] to come to pass. I keep running forward, keeping my head up, knowing that I will find You and come into Your open arms.

Knowledge Is Power, Really?

And so I grew up being someone who is usually the last to know about something or someone. Who likes who, who hates who, who got attached, who got married, who got pregnant, who gave birth, or even scandalous news, etc etc etc. I used to lament that I am ‘slow’ in receiving these news when I was younger but today, I count it a blessing [sometimes, I would like to stress, sometimes] to have a short antenna, and being the last to know about something from the grapevine. (High-five to those who are like me!)

I remembered a [close] friend asking me, “Do you know if they are still together?”, or “What is your view on so-and-so?”, questions like that. On the things that bear no importance to me such as news about who and who broke up, who did this to who, usually my curiosity don’t get the better of me [albeit sometimes it does, haha]. I replied with a rather lukewarm “Erm, I don’t know and I don’t really care actually.. I mean, it doesn’t concern us ma. Better not to know.” – More often than not, those seemingly harmless conversations turn into a gossip and/or thrashing session, I have sat through my fair share and would not want to go through another.

The friend asked me another question, “Actually we don’t need to search out something we don’t know about the Word (referring to the Bible) since we all get to Heaven anyways.” Of course, being a Bible-believing believer and a er-hm, good friend that I am, I asked “Why?” A mistake to ask certainly that was. He replied, “Because don’t know ma. So better not to know lor. Then we won’t be judged for what we don’t know ma.”

He shot me back with a final “Knowledge is power. We should find out what we don’t know.”

I was stunned in my mind but managed to pull off a “Mmmmmm. Yup.” in good faith so that the friendship is not compromised over a small discourse of ideas.

And so, in this day and age we have all heard of, echoed and regurgitated the all-famous “Knowledge is power” quote by sixteen century English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon at one point. Schools, educational institutes and the Government had also fully accepted this mantra-of-a-quote and put their money where their mouth is, pushing for education (Our robust education system is highly sought after in the Asia-Pacific region and NUS was ranked the top university in Asia!) above all else.

So, knowledge is power, really?

With both hands and legs up, I totally agree that knowledge is power. With knowledge, one knows how to start a fire to keep the night warm and nice. With knowledge, one doesn’t have to perform acts in accordance to the old wives’ tale to get an ailment treated. With knowledge, one won’t give birth to a litter. With knowledge, young adults are given job opportunities. With knowledge, we understand how to navigate through this complex social system that exist in our time. The truth is, with knowledge everything becomes better. Knowledge is power.

Even when it comes to vice, knowledge gives us the ability to walk away from it. Knowledge of the consequences of consuming drugs, participating in criminal activities gives us the strengthened choice to make the right decision to walk away albeit some still making all the wrong moves. Knowledge is power!

This statement is all good, so what’s the big deal?

However….

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However….

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However….

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HOW DOES KNOWING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S DIRTY LAUNDRY AND SCANDALS GIVE YOU POWER????

CAN YOU PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME?

 

If I can put it in the most laymen term, it’s simply being very kay-poh and/or being a gossip-monger. How does knowledge of other people’s [very personal] lives [more like scandals] enrich ours? Because it gives us a conversation topic to discuss and rubbish about? About why this guy broke up with this girl, for example. Because it is self-serving and makes us feel better about ourselves?

In my humble opinion, I think there’s no problem with this statement or quote. Knowledge truly is power because it allows the bearer to make informed decisions. If I can give a definition to it, I believe the quote is used as a universal form of expression that amassing and acquiring knowledge gives us enlightenment, educated, informed to make better choices. However, let’s not be deceived and misuse the application of the quote.

So let’s be well educated people and not lump two completely different matters together.

There’s knowledge that empowers the wielder, and there is knowledge with absolutely zero value and worth.

So knowledge is power, yes? Yes, of course!

So does All knowledge equates power? I leave it to your discretion.

Writer’s Note: The degree I want to know something seemingly ‘scandalous’ is also dependent on my perceived idea of the direction the conversation is steering towards and also the intent of the person who asked the question. If the question is intentionally asked to lead one to an unhealthy, biased, worthless, slandering, gossip-driven point of view, I would prefer not to know his perspective, much less participate in it. Thank you very much!

Is It Ethical To Send Your Parent To A Nursing Home?

And so today I took the time to head down to the Institute of Mental Health with my mother to visit her mother, which is my grandmother. As we were making our way there, my mom told me she felt so guilty for not being able to visit her mother when she got admitted into IMH (She got transferred there from the nursing home because the nursing home couldn’t handle her fuss – she’s suffering from depression, please don’t judge). I wanted to comfort her but couldn’t find the right words to do so.

Over there, I once again witness my grandmother’s hands strapped to the bed she was lying on as was the case at the nursing home. This was so because she would frequently pull out those tubes that were placed on her if left untied. The brief time that we had, I watched my mom’s mom in tears. I witnessed my mom tearing before on several times too. My mom was clearly gutted that her mom had to be tied down but there was nothing she could do about it because that was what’s best for her. Even a blind person could see the love my mom had for her mom and vice versa, even though my grandmother had senile dementia and thought that I was her son. My mom may not be very educated, but she taught me the importance of filial piety and being respectful among many other life lessons.

So the big question is, is it ethical to send one’s parent[s] to a nursing home?

Well, the PhD answer would be, “It depends”.

Because it really depends on what grounds the son or daughter wants to do so. In 1994, the Government put into legislation the Maintenance of Parent Act, thus regulating that the son and daughter is responsible for caring for the parent. Assuming the worst, it could be because there is an increasing trend of children abandoning their parents when they are of no further use (sucked dry of their wealth), terminally ill (thus incurring high medical bills), are a liability (extra mouth to feed, extra bills to foot), can no longer ‘contribute’ (finances, etc), or are no longer easy to manage (being old does causes some to become emotionally and mentally less stable or worse, contract senile dementia). Just google and you find all these not-so-nice news about infighting for inheritance. Even news giant like Yahoo published a guide to Picking The Right Nursing Home For Your Parents; you know our country is headed towards a certain direction which could be either good (that people are just too busy to provide the proper care for their parents) or bad (they don’t give a sh*t about their parents). There is no need to look at the issue of the Government pushing the responsibility to citizens because it is not necessary over here.

As Singaporean Chinese, we still appreciate the values [or four virtues] that entails Confucianism such as filial piety, righteousness , loyalty and contingency along with other virtues like honesty, kindness, forgiveness, sense of right and wrong, modesty, respectfulness and so on. Humanism is the core of Confucianism. Be it Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, Atheist or Free-thinker, one doesn’t need to forsake his or her own values and beliefs to practice Confucianism. We practice Confucianism not because we have to as Chinese. We practice Confucianism not because it would be wrong not to do so, but because it is simply the right thing to do as a red-blooded human being.  These values do not define us as a human being but it certainly give us a context and a frame to navigating the world that we live in. And it is the root of which made us Chinese, well, a Chinese.

It is downright unethical to send one’s parents to a nursing home or in more morbid terms; an Old Folk’s Home when they are deemed unable to contribute, or are labeled a ‘liability’ to the household. This doesn’t just go against Confucianism; the thing that made us Chinese Chinese, this totally goes against our humanity (morality). Without any sugar-coated words, it is just downright inhumane and morally disgusting. There is no leeway to this.

The next question is, “I can’t afford to hire a private or home-stay nurse to take care of my parent(s) much as I want to, and I don’t want to send my parent(s) to a Nursing Home because it just doesn’t feel right, what should I do?”

Based on what I know, a private nurse (visit few hours a day, few days a week, etc) charges above $2,500 for her duties. Nothing wrong with that, I respect that because caring for the elderly is no easy feat when you weigh in the problems that she face in caring for the elderly – making sure medication is taken, ensure proper diet, bring them out for exercise, helping them to clear their bowels, carrying them on and off the bed or wheelchair, dealing with their tantrums especially, etc. And then there is the mental health issue to factor in. It is a highly stressful job in the first place and one has to really have the passion in order to stay long in this line of business [in which there aren’t many around]. Elderly with more complex problems that require the care of professionals with very specific skill-sets also increases the remuneration package of the private nurse in question. If that isn’t expensive enough, the services of a home-stay nurse will set you back at beyond the $3,000 mark. That’s like an entire month’s salary [and more] for some folks.

However, we can’t just leave an elderly at home unattended, because accidents do happen and we don’t want that [because they are our family and not because it is burdensome to clear up the mess!!!]. We are living in this fast-paced society whereby we have no time to stay at home and render the care that our parents need. Yet at the same time, there’s no way one can afford that kind of cutthroat price of hiring a private or home-stay nurse in this day and age whereby as middle income households, one’s hard-earned salary and its increments can hardly beat the bills and inflation as a matter of factly. You have to be in the high income earners in order to be able to acquire the services of these nurses. Either that or you have ten siblings who can contribute.

So that rules the option of private nurses and them staying at home alone, out. That leaves us with one rather awkward option; the nursing home. Even still, it isn’t cheap. A website managed by the SingHealth group puts the figures of securing a place at private nursing homes between $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the quality of care and stay. Although there are subsidy schemes which the Government offer for nursing homes under their subsidy, there are loopholes as well (like how subsidy is inversely based on household income but not taking in other factors and variables – correct me if I am wrong), and there are many households who fall into that category.

The average rate people are forking out for nursing homes is believed to be around $1,600 range. My grandmother is/was staying at a nursing home which cost $XXXX (slightly below $2,000 range) and the facilities aren’t fantastic. But still, there’s a comfortable bed to lie on, television to watch, interaction and companionship with other senior citizens, all-in laundry services provided, three meals a day plus snacks as and when required, someone to bring one one’s medication, and so on. Most importantly, there are trained professionals (nurses albeit many being foreign labor), doctors, dietitian (depends on the nursing home you have selected and paid) and physiologist to give proper care to the grey-haired individuals we so dearly love. It is not the best measure to take but it is now a viable option.

So is it right to send one’s parents to a nursing home on grounds of being financially tied?

Yes…. And no. You can’t just dismiss it totally like white and black. Is it the best practice to send one’s parent(s) to a nursing home? Certainly not, BUT if one can’t afford the pricey tag of hiring a private nurse and, the same if not similar levels of care is provided from that of nursing homes, I believe it is okay to do so. Only then should [nursing home] be a viable option. That is also provided one frequently visit his/her parent(s) at the home la, I mean they took care of you from tod to adulthood. That way, you could keep up with the care and health of your parent(s) – find out if they are mistreated – and maintain the touch-points with the family unit. Maintaining kinship is one of the fabrics that keeps families and society running. Be a good example to your next generation or you could live to live through the experience you put your parents in.

At the end of the day, whether is it ethically wrong to send one’s parent(s) to a nursing home really depends on our motive and intent behind the proposed move. It’s like how we view the home, is it a nursing home where they can receive the well-deserved and much-needed care that they should have as they celebrate their golden years, or do we view it as an old folk’s home – a place where we can chuck them away because they are a liability.

Did love caused my mom to put my grandmother in a nursing home? Yes and No. Yes, because the proper care could be rendered to the mother she so dearly loves. And no, love wouldn’t want a loved one to be far away but life sometimes dishes one with limited choices.

Personally, it will only leave me gutted if I have to one day choose between keeping my parent(s) at home or sending them to a home, of which I pray that I will make the right decision when the time comes. I love my parents a lot, I really mean A LOT. I can’t give my word on that I will never consider such an option because, what is man but flesh? Only God is constant and only He is truly capable of keeping all His word. But as best as I can, I will try not to let my parents stay in a home because I want them around my kids.

There is so much our parents can contribute to the next generation, I mean I learnt so much from my now-decreased grandfather and grandmother from my father’s side. And boy, they sure doted on me. My grandpa frequently brought me to eat wanton mee and my grandma is just a dear, she’s the best. Till today I still remember their faces and how they doted on me albeit losing them around a decade ago but telling you readers all that will only bore you out.

Before I end, I think the healthcare workers – nurses from hospitals, nurses from nursing homes and IMH deserve a sword salute, a standing ovation and honor of the highest merit for all that they have contributed to Singapore and the otherwise unseen spectrum of the high and mighty, prosperous Singapore so that Singapore can be who She is. You are our unsung heroes who do what many of us can’t do. Government, please la, up their salary can?

Writer’s Note:
This article is wholly presented in the author’s personal point of view and should be taken with a pinch of salt. This article exist to challenge conventional and changing mindsets in this growing society, thus readers are invited to not take the article in its entirety at wholesale value. Any part of the article can be used at no charge, but should be credited back to the right source.

References:
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/picking-nursing-home-parents-160000493.html
http://www.aic.sg/uploadedFiles/Individuals_Caregivers/Understanding/Care_Services_Available/Nursing_Homes/MOH-Supplement-on-Nursing-Home-Charges1.pdf
http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/The-nursing-home-crunch.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism
http://singaporemind.blogspot.sg/2012/06/dire-consequences-of-policy-of-over.html
http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Nursing-Homes.aspx

Scribblings: 小事情

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SCRIBBLINGS DATED 9 SEPTEMBER 2013

My mom has a particular slang; “小事情”. Whenever I come to her with a problem, she would always reply a “小事情” to my concerns. Perhaps sandwiched between my dad, my younger brother and myself, all of whom are more opinionated and ‘exuberant in expressing our feelings’, my dear mother adopts the ‘小事情’ approach to bring some balance in this otherwise lopsided equation-of-a-family.

After being told by mother, I calm down and see that hey, actually things may not be as bad as it seems. Taking the emotion out and viewing the issue from a third-person perspective, I am able to identify that the problem is not as serious as I thought it be after all. Much can be learnt from my mom’s mantra to life. As we take on life’s challenges, sometimes the storms that the waves of life bring may seem so menacing and overwhelming that it could sink our ship with one mighty swipe. That’s when we adopt the ‘小事情’ approach to looking at things. It’s like taking yourself out of the set of the Pirates of the Caribbean and watching it unfold on a 47′ plasma TV. When we bring our perspective to another dimension of approach, we put aside the initial garnered feelings of anxiety and worry. We are then able to be calm and collected, and from there identify a solution to the problem at hand. The stars prevail even in the most darkest of nights.

Jesus also adopted the ‘小事情’ approach in Mark 4:35-41. A freak storm that came out of nowhere was battering at the ship they were on but Jesus was totally indifferent, taking a nap (amazing He could even sleep in a storm, that shows how secure He is too anyways) at possibly the worst time. His disciples were petrified, terrified, face turned green as grass from all the rocking of the ship and, face turned white for fear of dying. They woke Him up saying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” I can imagine Jesus saying “小事情 la” followed by a “Don’t disturb my beauty sleep, I still got a lot of preaching to do, you know?” And surely the storm was silenced and they got safely to their destination.

The best part to it is, Captain Jack Sparrow’s ship, ‘The Black Pearl’ always survives the worst of storms and firefights, emerging victorious each time to sail into the horizon.

“小事情”, your ship will make it through.