Nationalism 101 – Taught by Foreigners

2 great articles, here, and here,from TIME magazine today, on the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, re-aligned my nationalistic understanding. In one hour, two articles written by 2 American journalists made me patriotic in no way that decades of living in Singapore and undergoing years of a “national education” syllabus designed by Singapore, could have done.

I was born in Singapore, a third-generation Singaporean descendant of Chinese grandparents, who had emigrated from southern China in the 1940s to escape their strife-laden lives back in their ancestral homes, and made Singapore their new home. I was educated in English-speaking Singaporean schools (albeit aligned with British education systems), taught with Singaporean-adapted syllabuses that aimed to imbue me with the most relevant knowledge of science, math and humanities but infused with traditional Asian values updated with modern Western ideologies. In my belief through my adolescent years, I had rejected Asian values, gradually strengthening and coalescing my personal belief systems around a core of Western beliefs and values. I aspired to break free of my Singaporean roots, a country that had given me a peek into Western society from within the cloistered confines of Asia. Singapore, with strong economic ties to US and Europe throughout its economic rise, had been a highly metropolitan city that could be considered where East-meets-West in a highly symbiotic fashion.

Today, I read 2 articles that rattle my belief systems and may have begun a new introspective re-examination of my ideological foundations. Lee Kuan Yew, founder of modern Singapore, had in an article written by 2 American journalists, successfully crystallized the nuances of geopolitics and history, the ironies of the conflicting cultural, political and social systems of Eastern & Western schools of thought that existed in my cognitive database. Not only does he explain and articulate his thoughts better, but he also integrated it with contextual, time-based realities that had affected many of his decisions at many dilemmatic junctures of his life, that coincided with the growth of modern Singapore.

This integration of thought systems with irrefutable realities has brought forth a highly pragmatic, logical and sentiment-free vision of my world. I would not say that this integration has caused a seismic shift in my understanding of the world, but it certainly marks a new milestone in what I thought i believed and learnt to re-analyze it with a more critical eye.

Too much thoughts in my brain, just thought i wanted to capture the immediate reactions of my brain to this new information. It feels like that scene from the Matrix in some sense, that another version of reality did exist. Will blog more on this later after i have had more time to think through.

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2 thoughts on “Nationalism 101 – Taught by Foreigners

  1. I’ve shared my thoughts on this article here.

    Well, it was a good reaffirmation coming in the wake of a global outcry over Singapore’s hanging policy. What great timing Singapore has right?

    I’ve always loved the strength and resilence LKY has demonstrated. But you know, how I feel about all the funny and quirkly things that Sillypore does… It really makes me pissed off at times.

    Somehow, like you, this article has made me feel proud to be Singaporean once more. And it comes at a great time as we’re trying to step back into Singapore Society.

  2. On the Singapore system… Take complexity systems theory and flip it. 🙂

    I’ll delete this post another time. Tell when you’ve read it.

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