lundi, janvier 25, 2010

Thought of the Day

I am not technologically savvy. At home, I write on the backs of pieces of paper (e.g. receipts, bank statements, school newsletters, publicity), bypassing the lovely agendas and other notepads that my illustrous Hub brings home occasionally, that I offer to my beautiful children to draw on.

Since my memory is bad, I do need to note down my appointments and I do so in a beautiful Ferrari leather-bound agenda kindly offered to me by Montezzemolo himself. While almost everyone I know has since moved on to an iPhone. I am at least 5 years away from this toy.

And appointments I have, for myself as for my children. Life is regulated, quite busy and almost very predictable - and don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. No longer, anyway.

I am starting to realise that it is a luxury, a gift not given to everyone, to have a life like mine. I am still reading Saviano's Gomorrah (hub reads the Italian version and me the English translation) and it's a riveting book. Not an easy book to read if you are used to smooth story-telling, but I feel that he is a powerful storyteller in the sense that he makes you think, analyse and feel as you read along. It's a different kind of involvement. And he doesn't just write about the mafia, but carried insights about lives, perspectives, going-ons in both the legal and criminal worlds, the overlaps...There is no black or white, no right or wrong, everything is intertwined, related, relative.

He has been very brave, putting his own life in danger by writing a book like this, though his life only really came into danger the day his book became such a success. For the more people reading it, the more numerous we are to be alerted to the problems that the mafia creates in our world. It is no longer a disease limited to the south of Italy. It has infested the north of the country, Germany, Spain, Holland, Portugal, France, the UK, the USA etc etc. And unlike Italy, most of the other countries are not adapted to dealing with the problem and will need to start changing their laws to be able to do so. The sooner the better.

Up till now, I have been pretty complacent. I don't do drugs, I do not visit prostitutes, I do not gamble (except for national lottery), I do not contribute to the mafia's 500 000 euros per day income from drugs alone. But now I know that the clothes and shoes I buy, certain processed foods I consume, my general apathy, could be feeding both the Chinese and Italian mafia and suddenly things are no longer as simple as they have always seemed to be. I wonder if we couldn't take an active conscious role and stand against certain things that we could maybe change collectively. That it's no longer enough to just not do something.

Anyway, life is interesting because there is hope that things would progress, become better. And it need not be economic or material in nature. I was thinking of my favourite Canto Pop stars who killed themselves in spite of their wealth and success and I know that life must have lost meaning for them because they haven't been able to find any purpose left in it. I told my children this morning in the car that they have only one life to live (it) well. They have been born lucky and must not take it for granted. Chances do not come by for everybody even when you're ready to seize them. Many a time you may have to create them yourself or just learn to be happy with your lot.

After Gommorah I would like to move on to Malitalia, a book written by 2 journalists giving the story from the side of the forces of law and order who combat the mafia on a daily basis, those Italians who live with it everyday. And after that I would love to find a book written if possible by those who actually belong to the clans. Often I wonder why they would want to earn all that money to not be able to live long enough to enjoy it anyway, to know that their children would not be born to a peaceful existence. They must have very different motivations from you and I.

I have also been thinking a little of Singapore's death penalty and especially our mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking. About a decade ago, I was one of its staunchest advocates. That was my Singaporean education and socialisation speaking - world in black and white, very good versus evil, missionary and Miss Hero. I was also paternalistic before I was even a parent myself and I couldn't understand even as I became one why Hub is always criticising me for overprotecting the children, for wanting to do everything for them.

As time goes by, I started feeling more and more uneasy about the death penalty. I wonder whether there could be justice in killing - even when you feel justified in doing so. To err, as we know, is human. And legal systems are more man-made than the waterfall in Jurong Bird Park. Death, on the other hand, is irreversible. Unless you know something that I don't.

And mandatory death for drug trafficking. I have zero tolerance for drugs. Not even marijuana for medical use. I'd rather play safe than be sorry. If you ask me, I am all for securing the frontiers : no drugs, no immigrants, no bugs, no viruses, no Chinese prostitutes, no fake bags, no haze from Indonesia...But no second chances, no room for doubt?

The thing is that everywhere, the real people trafficking are the small fries. Not the ones who really earn the money. And who sets the limits (e.g. 17g and above for heroin) for getting the death penalty, what's the rationale behind it? Prevention is better than cure, deterrence saves lives and society from ruin etc - but resisting drug use has to come from each and every one of us. Life is not like Social Security, life has to be lived. Do not keep your fine china in your cupboard because like me, you do not want to risk breaking it.

And I do not know about you. Besides worrying about terrorists planting bombs in my bags, I also get very nervous each time I travel though Singapore : fear of having my bags stuffed with drugs and getting sentenced to death for nothing. Am I the only paranoid around?

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