Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go The Extra Mile? Only the Nearest MRT Thank You.

A man was going down from City Hall to Geylang, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A pastor happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a deacon, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Buddhist, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and administered first aid. Then he put the man in his own car, took him to a hospital and took care of him. The next day he took out $200 and gave them to the hospital. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

(Luke 10:30-36, paraphrased for Singaporean context)

I had a conversation with another Malaysian the other day, and we agreed on several things about Singaporeans.

In general Singaporeans have a me, myself attitude. They lack communal or a relational outlook.

If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:41)

Take for example, when a Singaporean gives you a lift, he doesn't drop you off at home. Unlike in Malaysia, where I've had complete strangers after a dinner drop me off at home all the way from downtown KL, Singaporeans will only offer to drop you off at the nearest MRT that is convenient from them.

In all my 15 years living in Singapore, the only person (yes person not persons) was a fellow Malaysian buddy of mine who would do it.

It seems Singaporeans (including Christians) only do things if it is convenient to them. They'll only make friends if its convenient for them and their schedule. Not because they are neighbours at home or even church.

I wonder what happened to the Christ's commandment to go the extra mile? Walking an extra mile isn't easy. In fact to walk just one mile is inconvenient. It takes about 20 minutes to walk a mile. To walk the extra mile means to spend another 20 minutes helping someone. (And remember, you have to walk another 40 minutes back to where you came from, making it a total of almost 1.5 hours spent deviating from your original course.)

I think that's a commandment that's too difficult for Singaporeans. Perhaps petrol is too expensive in Singapore? Or they don't want to wear and tear their expensive new and shiny cars?

The other thing is, making an appointment with a Singaporean needs a week of advance notice. Going out with other friends in other countries is easier. You just need to call them and they are happy to entertain you for an evening to chat or talk, or go out for supper. In Singapore, there seems to be a need for a reason to meet someone. A show, a dinner. Can't we meet just because we are human beings? Malaysians will just call one another for supper at the mamak stall. Brits and Aussies will meet at the pub for a drink and chat.

I think the Singapore church is becoming like the church of Laodicea, who think they are rich, yet are poor.

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