This question was surprisingly tough. It was a short, sudden question that came into my mind while I was having lunch and watching the television. For people who knew me personally, they would brush off this question as one of those that ‘can be ignored because Isao doesn’t actually care much about such questions’. Instead, what I did was the opposite. I’ve surprised even myself.
It was in the year 2016. Many things happened. My national exams (GCE A Level) was one massive shipwreck, but that’s not the point. The coup in Turkey, the many bombings all across Europe and the Middle East, the shootings and violence in the United States were the few major news hung up across the top of newspapers globally. In the country where I currently live in, Singapore, the rising threat of ISIS, the election of Donald Trump, Brexit and China’s possessive and assertive grasp over the South China Sea were old news to all of us. I certainly did remember myself as a student, wondering why we bothered about such news. Thinking back, I was probably just a kid. I had always been living in a misguided, haphazard manner, where I never questioned because I was too lazy to. To put it simply, ISIS was a threat because it’ll threaten the very bedrock of safety and convenience. The election of Donald Trump would set many economic opportunities for my country back. Brexit was one that meant that one of our many major trading partners would’ve only seen the tip of all that is to come, a probable breakdown of the union itself. China’s grip on the South China Sea just meant that we couldn’t sit comfortably on the fence; we ha to make the choice between the US and China very quickly. All in all, I had only one thing to see. Our threats and our treasures were all derived from human nature. To summarise, our threats and treasures were two sides of the same coin, and that conflict was inevitable.
My teacher and I were pretty different in the way we thought. Let’s just call him Mr. A. When I first started out in junior college, Mr. A and I talked about politics. We looked at a typical political compass then and told each other about our political stances. He was economically right and an authoritarian. I had been identified as economically left and a libertarian. Of course, that difference aside, we had common traits, just with different scales. We could analyse in depth, but my analysis could go overboard. We were pragmatic individuals, but his sense of realism far surpassed mine while my mind would stumble out into pragmatism and scamper back into idealism and weltschmerz. After all, we were very different people with very different minds, and we obviously couldn’t understand the thoughts of one another. Through our attempts at rationalising, at the end of my two years in junior college, with my last talk with him being a couple of days before my GP (General Paper) exam, I came to realise that we never understood while rationalising, because all this time was spent on building a universal equation to comprehend thought, not empathising with emotions. For some, this sounds like an abnormal life in high school. In truth, I was pretty much a loner in junior college and the only companions I had were my seniors, who graduated on my senior year. That only left me with the teachers who had the same interests as I had. That said, it was still funny how we managed to get along because we were ultimately very different people. I was a nihilist. He was an optimist.
That however taught me that differences aside, our willingness to rationalise the thoughts of each other was already a step towards uniting ourselves, even though it meant having to deal with a person with a completely different set of ideals, philosophy, behaviour, and personality.
That goes the same for many cases. Why would two sides get into a war without understanding the needs and wants of another? ISIS and the rest of the world wanted to obliterate those who didn’t believe in any of their ideals. North Korea tested missiles and the world lost their shit because they were scared, but it was just as possible that North Korea was already afraid of their notoriety and the rest of the world. The alt right rose with Donald Trump’s being elected, but was it already because they were afraid of their way of life being taken away from them just like how they imagined? If so, it must be said that the LGBT, women, Obamacare supporters and many other groups rioted against Trump for the exact reason Trump supporters voted Trump. Why then did human turn against human upon seeing one another?
The answer to that, as I maintain my voice, would be ‘human nature’, because our threats and treasures originate similarly, from the same source. That said, we cannot continue what we had in 2016 because 2017 would turn out as a repeat. There might be more shootings, there might be more bombings. Heck, China might even gobble up more waters to the point that it’s illegal for me to travel to Tekong (for those who don’t know what Tekong is, it’s an island military training camp) and back to mainland whenever I book out of camp. Yes we must fight against things that seek to destroy what we believe is for the greater good, yes we must engage in combat with those who seek to pulverise any efforts in either maintaining the status quo or ameliorating currently disastrous global situations, but we have to come to realise that fighting fire with fire, as history has evinced, only works by backfiring. After all, revenge only comes sweet in the moment and bitter for a lifetime.
Just recently, many notifications have been popping up on my phone from The Guardian, a news source I very frequently read because of their analytical writing. They’ve been utterly concerned with Trump’s presidential arrival, bombings in Syria and just recently, their article about human rights violation in China struck a chord with me. Ultimately, I could only conclude that because of human nature, no one could ever let another person or entity trample on what little dignity a person or entity has. Not even China’s Communist Party allowed it, not even Trump’s supporters allowed it. Not even anti-Trump supporters allowed it, not even anything in the world allowed it. After all, we’re still so hung up on dignity, we’re willing to threaten another at the expense of what we mask using the word (or any word to the effect of) dignity. Whatever the case, I decided that we should ridicule Trump no more because he’s the president of a superpower and the people of America should work with him to continue making America great Yes. America is great already. All America needs is improvement, just like any other country. And that does not mean that all Americans should religiously agree with everything the Donald says or claims. After all, he was a man who proliferated lies, so much so that ‘Fake News’ has become such a disruptive phrase, its meaning of being skeptical of conventional news and attempting to reveal more truths has been unforgivably and ironically lost to a total lie to cover up more lies. But as I write those statements above, I started to question myself. Even if the intention of not ridiculing Trump was to unite an already divided America, would it help? My answer was starting to incline towards ‘no’, because from what we can tell, that man is easily manipulated. He’s such a narcissist, blowing smoke up his arse could be a legitimate way to control him. Vladimir Putin, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and many other politicians have sought to kiss his arse, there’s no telling that he can’t be manipulated into making things easy for these people listed above. Already he doesn’t plan on understanding intentions to sanction Russia, he doesn’t have a concrete foreign policy apart from ‘America First’, we’re left with USA in a pernicious spot with an awkward leader barging into the White House. This is all the more terrifying because we would’ve been putting the unity of people ahead of their very own survival. Then the most difficult choice right at the start of 2017 begins, not only for all Americans, but citizens of the world.
With that, I’m torn between asserting dignity and promulgating unity.
Or maybe I never really understood anything.