Dec 11, 2009

Virtues

Let's be grandpa and talk about virtues this week. In a post-globalization world today virtues, like wave or the moon, waxes and wanes with time. With the fall of the American economy, with subsequent pandemic effects, thrift is making a comeback. Thrift - disciplined or restrained spending habits, is nothing new to Asians, particularly citizens of developing countries where labor is "affordable". We've all seen the classic storyline: banks encourage consumers to spend more - with greater fluidity comes greater returns. However, what they oversaw was the gradual decline of other virtues in the past decade - prudence and modesty. Back during my high school years only Daddy has the mobile phone; now even family maids own one. Before the mp3 player was invented nobody needs music on the bus or while jogging down the street. Mum and Dad's only investment are the numerous slips of fixed deposit receipts. Fast forward to my generation we invest in high risk-high gains profiles such as stocks, funds and derivatives. You don't need a lot of intelligence to judge the outcome of such behaviors, at large.
The decade comes without positive gains though. The post-2000 generation shows abundance of self-reliance. With everything just a click away, who needs intermediaries anymore? The decline and disappearance of 'middle man' industries such as travel agents and personal secretaries are nothing unpredictable before 2000. In medical education, teachers' role to lecture is being revolutionized into just 'pointing the direction' and 'giving an overview'. It's no surprise that medical schools in 2030 will employ no more teaching human resource, so much so when it comes to professional knowledge.
Fairness, on the other hand, scored shamefully all the way. America is slowly coming to realize the democratic economy they practice only aggregates the wealth divide. Health care in America is a joke to the OECDs, while average income in some US states are not far away from Central African nations. While US has the highest GDP worldwide, countless US children are dropping out of school, dying of treatable diseases, or have unemployed parents. So much for living in the Land of the Free.
Back home the same goes for impartiality. With 2 prime minister changes within the decade, waves of change swept across Malaysia again and again, sadly leaving no permanent impact on people and government. Mr. Abdullah's fight against corruption all but failed, and Mr. Najib's respectfulness for the People's decision is dismal. Not mentioning the cabinet's depletion of trustworthiness.
Nevertheless, I respect Malaysians' love for peacefulness and unity. With current circumstances Revolution 2.0 is all but inevitable in 4 years to come.
As we start to bid goodbye to the decade (dubbed worst decade ever by Time Magazine), it's good to just reflect on the gains and losses we experience as an individual, nation and the world. As population explodes in third-world countries and diminishes in developed countries, we will need every virtue we have to continue living harmoniously as Earthlings. This we must instill in our children.