Friday, June 22, 2007

We can change the nation

Change has to start with the individual doesn't it? If everyone waits for everyone else to start a momentum of change, will change eventually happen?

Do the people of Singapore actually want change? And if change does happen, there will be people advocating and triggering that change right? If if you feel that Singapore needs some change, will you be that person, one among many like minded people, contributing to that momentum of change? Or are Singaporeans narcissistic or apathetic by nature? Have many of us Singaporeans "learned to be helpless"?

Learned Helplessness
Martin E. P. Seligman together with his colleagues discovered this phenomenon in 1965.

If ringing bell or tone is repeatedly paired with this presentation of food, a dog salivates. Later, all you have to do is ring the bell and the dog salivates. However, in Seligman's experiment, instead of pairing the tone with food, he paired it with a harmless shock, restraining the dog in a hammock during the learning phase. The idea, then, was that after the dog learned this, the dog would feel fear on the presentation of a tone, and would then run away or do some other behavior.

Next, they put the conditioned dog into a shuttlebox, which consists of a low fence dividing the box into two compartments. The dog can easily see over the fence, and jump over if it wishes. So they rang the bell. Surprisingly, nothing happened! (They were expecting the dog to jump over the fence.) Then, they decided to shock the conditioned dog, and again nothing happened! The dog just pathetically laid there! When they put a normal dog into the shuttlebox, who never experienced inescapable shock, the dog, as expected, immediately jumped over the fence to the other side. Apparently, what the conditioned dog learned in the hammock, was that trying to escape from the shocks is futile.

Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which an animal has learned to believe that it is helpless. It has come to believe that it has no control over its situation and that whatever it does is futile. As a result, the animal will stay passive in the face of an unpleasant, harmful or damaging situation, even when it does actually have the power to change its circumstances.

people in a state of learned helplessness view problems as personal, pervasive, or permanent. That is,
* Personal - They may see themselves as the problem; that is, they have internalized the problem.
* Pervasive - They may see the problem as affecting all aspects of life.
* Permanent - They may see the problem as unchangeable.

So have many of the apathetic Singaporeans learned to be helpless? Have Singaporeans been conditioned just like the dog in the above paragraph?
"aiyah what can we do, just follow gahmen loh" A common line used by many Singaporeans, even if they are unhappy with the polices made by the ruling party.

What is learned can be unlearned and we as Singaporeans need to unlearn this form of helplessness or helpless mentality.

“Peasants don’t care for much else except a bowl of rice on the table, a roof over their heads, and the chance to go out to the rice fields to do the daily back-breaking chores day in day out.”

If you are voting with only your rice bowl occupying your thoughts, does that make you a peasant? Understandable mindset for a developing country, but for a government that claims to be first world, shouldn't the people be thinking citizens with 1st world mentalities?

If we are a first world nation, should the prevailing standard of living be on par with other 1st world nations if not better?

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