A letter to our daughter by Mark Zuckerberg

A letter to our daughter MARK ZUCKERBERG·TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2015

Dear Max,

Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future. Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in.

Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.

While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today.

We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.

We believe all lives have equal value, and that includes the many more people who will live in future generations than live today. Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here.

But right now, we don’t always collectively direct our resources at the biggest opportunities and problems your generation will face.

Consider disease. Today we spend about 50 times more as a society treating people who are sick than we invest in research so you won’t get sick in the first place.

Medicine has only been a real science for less than 100 years, and we’ve already seen complete cures for some diseases and good progress for others. As technology accelerates, we have a real shot at preventing, curing or managing all or most of the rest in the next 100 years.

Today, most people die from five things — heart disease, cancer, stroke, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases — and we can make faster progress on these and other problems.

Once we recognize that your generation and your children’s generation may not have to suffer from disease, we collectively have a responsibility to tilt our investments a bit more towards the future to make this reality. Your mother and I want to do our part.

Curing disease will take time. Over short periods of five or ten years, it may not seem like we’re making much of a difference. But over the long term, seeds planted now will grow, and one day, you or your children will see what we can only imagine: a world without suffering from disease.

There are so many opportunities just like this. If society focuses more of its energy on these great challenges, we will leave your generation a much better world.• • •

Our hopes for your generation focus on two ideas: advancing human potential and promoting equality.

Advancing human potential is about pushing the boundaries on how great a human life can be.

Can you learn and experience 100 times more than we do today?

Can our generation cure disease so you live much longer and healthier lives?

Can we connect the world so you have access to every idea, person and opportunity?

Can we harness more clean energy so you can invent things we can’t conceive of today while protecting the environment?

Can we cultivate entrepreneurship so you can build any business and solve any challenge to grow peace and prosperity?

Promoting equality is about making sure everyone has access to these opportunities — regardless of the nation, families or circumstances they are born into.

Our society must do this not only for justice or charity, but for the greatness of human progress.

Today we are robbed of the potential so many have to offer. The only way to achieve our full potential is to channel the talents, ideas and contributions of every person in the world.

Can our generation eliminate poverty and hunger?

Can we provide everyone with basic healthcare?

Can we build inclusive and welcoming communities?

Can we nurture peaceful and understanding relationships between people of all nations?

Can we truly empower everyone — women, children, underrepresented minorities, immigrants and the unconnected?

If our generation makes the right investments, the answer to each of these questions can be yes — and hopefully within your lifetime.• • •

This mission — advancing human potential and promoting equality — will require a new approach for all working towards these goals.

We must make long term investments over 25, 50 or even 100 years. The greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short term thinking.

We must engage directly with the people we serve. We can’t empower people if we don’t understand the needs and desires of their communities.

We must build technology to make change. Many institutions invest money in these challenges, but most progress comes from productivity gains through innovation.

We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates. Many institutions are unwilling to do this, but progress must be supported by movements to be sustainable.

We must back the strongest and most independent leaders in each field. Partnering with experts is more effective for the mission than trying to lead efforts ourselves.

We must take risks today to learn lessons for tomorrow. We’re early in our learning and many things we try won’t work, but we’ll listen and learn and keep improving.• • •

Our experience with personalized learning, internet access, and community education and health has shaped our philosophy.

Our generation grew up in classrooms where we all learned the same things at the same pace regardless of our interests or needs.

Your generation will set goals for what you want to become — like an engineer, health worker, writer or community leader. You’ll have technology that understands how you learn best and where you need to focus. You’ll advance quickly in subjects that interest you most, and get as much help as you need in your most challenging areas. You’ll explore topics that aren’t even offered in schools today. Your teachers will also have better tools and data to help you achieve your goals.

Even better, students around the world will be able to use personalized learning tools over the internet, even if they don’t live near good schools. Of course it will take more than technology to give everyone a fair start in life, but personalized learning can be one scalable way to give all children a better education and more equal opportunity.

We’re starting to build this technology now, and the results are already promising. Not only do students perform better on tests, but they gain the skills and confidence to learn anything they want. And this journey is just beginning. The technology and teaching will rapidly improve every year you’re in school.

Your mother and I have both taught students and we’ve seen what it takes to make this work. It will take working with the strongest leaders in education to help schools around the world adopt personalized learning. It will take engaging with communities, which is why we’re starting in our San Francisco Bay Area community. It will take building new technology and trying new ideas. And it will take making mistakes and learning many lessons before achieving these goals.

But once we understand the world we can create for your generation, we have a responsibility as a society to focus our investments on the future to make this reality.

Together, we can do this. And when we do, personalized learning will not only help students in good schools, it will help provide more equal opportunity to anyone with an internet connection.• • •

Many of the greatest opportunities for your generation will come from giving everyone access to the internet.

People often think of the internet as just for entertainment or communication. But for the majority of people in the world, the internet can be a lifeline.

It provides education if you don’t live near a good school. It provides health information on how to avoid diseases or raise healthy children if you don’t live near a doctor. It provides financial services if you don’t live near a bank. It provides access to jobs and opportunities if you don’t live in a good economy.

The internet is so important that for every 10 people who gain internet access, about one person is lifted out of poverty and about one new job is created.

Yet still more than half of the world’s population — more than 4 billion people — don’t have access to the internet.

If our generation connects them, we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. We can also help hundreds of millions of children get an education and save millions of lives by helping people avoid disease.

This is another long term effort that can be advanced by technology and partnership. It will take inventing new technology to make the internet more affordable and bring access to unconnected areas. It will take partnering with governments, non-profits and companies. It will take engaging with communities to understand what they need. Good people will have different views on the best path forward, and we will try many efforts before we succeed.

But together we can succeed and create a more equal world.• • •

Technology can’t solve problems by itself. Building a better world starts with building strong and healthy communities.

Children have the best opportunities when they can learn. And they learn best when they’re healthy.

Health starts early — with loving family, good nutrition and a safe, stable environment.

Children who face traumatic experiences early in life often develop less healthy minds and bodies. Studies show physical changes in brain development leading to lower cognitive ability.

Your mother is a doctor and educator, and she has seen this firsthand.

If you have an unhealthy childhood, it’s difficult to reach your full potential.

If you have to wonder whether you’ll have food or rent, or worry about abuse or crime, then it’s difficult to reach your full potential.

If you fear you’ll go to prison rather than college because of the color of your skin, or that your family will be deported because of your legal status, or that you may be a victim of violence because of your religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, then it’s difficult to reach your full potential.

We need institutions that understand these issues are all connected. That’s the philosophy of the new type of school your mother is building.

By partnering with schools, health centers, parent groups and local governments, and by ensuring all children are well fed and cared for starting young, we can start to treat these inequities as connected. Only then can we collectively start to give everyone an equal opportunity.

t will take many years to fully develop this model. But it’s another example of how advancing human potential and promoting equality are tightly linked. If we want either, we must first build inclusive and healthy communities.• • •For your generation to live in a better world, there is so much more our generation can do.

Today your mother and I are committing to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges. I will continue to serve as Facebook’s CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work. By starting at a young age, we hope to see compounding benefits throughout our lives.

As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation. Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.

We will give 99% of our Facebook shares — currently about $45 billion — during our lives to advance this mission. We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.

We’ll share more details in the coming months once we settle into our new family rhythm and return from our maternity and paternity leaves. We understand you’ll have many questions about why and how we’re doing this.

As we become parents and enter this next chapter of our lives, we want to share our deep appreciation for everyone who makes this possible.

We can do this work only because we have a strong global community behind us. Building Facebook has created resources to improve the world for the next generation. Every member of the Facebook community is playing a part in this work.

We can make progress towards these opportunities only by standing on the shoulders of experts — our mentors, partners and many incredible people whose contributions built these fields.

And we can only focus on serving this community and this mission because we are surrounded by loving family, supportive friends and amazing colleagues. We hope you will have such deep and inspiring relationships in your life too.

Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children. We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope and joy you give us. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world.

Love,

Mom and Dad

Posted December 7, 2015

The General Elections is here…again

The General Elections is here…again

Dear Boys,

We are in the midst of an election season again in Singapore, and I hate elections, other than the one extra day of public holiday we get so that we can go to the polls.

Why the hate?

Its a rather strong choice of words, because that’s what elections does, polarises people. Right now in Singapore as well as around the world, we’re facing a pandemic of unprecedented scale, all hands must be on deck to fight this pandemic, save lives and of course save our country and economy. The COVID19 pandemic puts the entire world at war, and this war is far from over.

So here comes the Elections.

This is really the last thing we need right now, as the current, effective and working government is dissolved so that we can reset and choose a ‘new’ one. We don’t need a new one as the current one is already doing a stellar job, they have all the mechanism in place and everything is working well. I really like it the way Singapore is going.

So here comes the Opposition.

Let me be idealistic, and say that without the ruling PAP, all oppositions will collapse. They have nothing going for them except to oppose, whatever policies the government has come up with, never mind that the current policies in place is working well.

Listening to the Opposition, creates that desired effect, oppose, and it mostly means deconstructing what is already in place. For example, there is a lot of noise about the GST hike, the Oppositions uses this as a red herring to distracts the public, knowing that no one likes taxes (me included) but taxes is a necessary evil. Opposing eventual GST increase is a populist ideas used to stir the population to dream of a better utopia state.

Policymakers or Politicians

The other reason why I hated elections is that a lot of the PAP leaders are not better policy makers than they are politicians, the Oppositions, on the other hand, are more politicians than policymakers.

I prefer Policymakers to Politicians.

Policymakers

They are the go-to guys to fix problems, and offer solutions. They look into issues, listen to the sentiments, diagnose the issues and suggests a reasonable, actionable course of actions. They take out what might not work, and change it into something better to ensure the bigger strategy is reached. Policymakers are planners, and they take actions. They don’t blame and they will strive to execute the best possible policies to secure the best possible outcome. They don’t play politics.

Policymakers usually makes lousy politicians, because they are boring people, and take a long time to communicate their ideas as they know the full scale complexity of an issue and they have a plan to deal with it, explaining will take too much time, and they like to let their work speak for themselves.

Politicians

Many politicians makes decent policymakers, but there are many politicians, who are merely political and comes with their own personal agendas, sure they will implement policies, but policies they benefit from, first. Politicians are shrewd communicators, using their skills to break down a complex problem into bite-size pros and cons, never mind the rest of the just-as-important fine prints. Politicians often comes with the charisma, charm and eloquence to bamboozle the public, carry a baby and make a dramatic show for to polarise issues so that people will take their side and buy their arguments. They can use power to rally the people, their arguments are typically one sided ‘them and us’ and mostly assigning blame to an extrinsic entity.

Lee Kuan Yew

As far as I can remember, Mr Lee has never assigned blame during his political career (I’m sure Oppositions beg to differ!). When we ‘gain independence’ from Malaya (the truth is they kicked us out), Mr Lee’s rhetoric wasn’t to assign blame. Correct me if I’m wrong, he never openly blamed the Malaysians for kicking us out, he has bigger problems to deal with. But being dealt with a shitty card like this, it is very easy for Mr Lee to stir the hearts and minds of Singaporeans back in 1965 by saying:” They did this to us! They didn’t want us! We will make them pay and they’ll regret ever doing this to us!” Had we build the nation on those words, we would have been a very different Singapore. We would have a Singapore always looking for reason why people hates us, rejected us and we would have been a very angsty bunch of people. But Mr Lee showed us a better way, and look at where we are today!

The kind of political climate I want my children to be in

Mr Lee has said it before, PAP will not lasts forever, a better party will come along, and right now, not even in the near to far future, I see any form of better party, all I see is a bunch of Oppositions, opposing for the sake of opposing.

The New Centre of Gravity

As I age, I’m starting to understand what Mr Lee said, he knew that the policies PAP comes up with isn’t perfect, they are very, very good policies, but they have flaws. He has a vision of another political party that equals or has superior policymakers, and has an actionable plan. The new political force will have no time to assign blame, play politics, lie, oppose for the sake of opposing, and engage in selfish, narrow minded antics that just divides the population. The new political force will be an alternative centre of gravity, one that has a stronger pull, has a better vision, direction and energy, an organization even PAP will concede to.

This party will be Opposition’s Opposition, and yet it will not be another PAP. In the current ecosystem PAP is the ruling party and everyone else is an Opposition, period. The new party isn’t going to be an Opposition, not even an Alternative, it will be a whole new way of thinking how Singapore can more forward, in ways that not even PAP can fathom, when that happens, we know we will have a second coming, but until then, I will have to bear with the current bunch of Opposition and the noise they are making.

I Do

I Do

Dear Boys,

This is not about a wedding vow.

It is about something just as important and just as life changing, perhaps even more.

It is about suicide.

Let me be honest here.

Your dad has thought about it.

And is sometimes thinking about it still.

What is suicide?

I’ll not be clinical here, as you boys can read about it in the many, many journals out there. I’m also not trained or studied (in a serious academic way) in psychology or psychiatry. I know suicide in my own personal, macabre, deep dark way.

It’s not a sad thing, nor happy thing.

It is mostly an existential thing. Like what is the purpose of struggle? The purpose of life? Those big profound ‘cheem, cheem’ (deep, deep) stuff. These thoughts keeps me up, and they still do.

Sometimes it can be very mundane things like annoying colleagues, the day to day struggles, and why we do it. It can be as easy as lazy to live. Yes, it can be a chore to get up, get dressed, get up the next day and groundhog day, over and over and over and over and over again, and again, and again…monotony kills.

Just writing about it puts me in that train of thought…

Anyway…

Why I hadn’t kill myself yet.

Contrary to many out there who thinks that suicide is a form of escaping reality, it is in fact a very courageous thing to do, under some circumstances of suicide. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and will power to set up a rope to hang yourself, or to cut yourself to bleed dry, or hurl yourself off a building. It is not an easy thing to do. In fact it is one of the hardest thoughts any living being can entertain.

It is a powerful thought to have in your mind about killing yourself, and it is not necessarily a good or bad thing. It is a thing.

So use that thing, that powerful thing purposefully. Of course if your purpose is kill yourself, then perhaps its your thing then.

What is more salient here is the powerful thing you have. I learned about this when I heard one Mediacorp Actress/Host, I think it was Irene Ang who said that you need a tremendous amount of will power to kill yourself ( I think she was speaking from experience) and why not use that willpower to kill yourself, to do good and live? And that made sense to me

The other reason why I hadn’t kill myself

Your mother, she will not let me die. If I’d kill myself, she’d revive me and kill me herself. Joking lah. On a serious note, she is the meaning of my life. Sorry boys, you both comes in second. Really, without her, I’d have no meaning.

But with suicide tendency, it is an ironic twist. It took me a while to look outside of my own selfishness to see her. In the past, I’d still think of killing myself, despite of what she has done for me, and after all the love and affection we have shown each other.

But as it grows, and me talking to her about my suicide tendencies, she somehow has opened a part of my feelings that allow me to depend on her, and see my importance to her. I wouldn’t want to leave her alone in this world and change her title from ‘wife’ to ‘widow’.

In short, I see her life and well being as more important to mine, in a very intimate, and interconnected way. Sometimes, you might think that killing yourself is a way of setting your loved ones free from the burden of being with you, the other side of the argument is just as true. When I die, the world will be robbed of an unique individual, well not that I am that great an individual, but the bigger truth is, I am robbing my wife, her companionship, her someone to hold her hands, and make meaning in her life.

We all contribute to the world in our own small way and killing ourselves rob the world of a life, no matter how small, or insignificant it can be. Think of it this way, Wayne, if you kill yourself, your friend, Angel (pun unintended) will never have a chance of bumping into you on the streets. Neither will you ever find out how stupid or smart you can be.

Death robs

I attended 2 funerals this year. Both my friends died of ailments and a genetic disease. Its not the death that matters, it is the fact that, when I walk the streets, I can never bump into Grace or Peter anymore, because they are dead. There will never be another Peter, someone who looks liker Peter, but not Peter.  While death robs, suicide is almost like grand theft arson of life. You deliberately choose to eject yourself of life, and robs  everyone around you a friend, brother, son, sister, mother, father, cousin, student, child, singer, driver, chef and so on.

I Do

Recently the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester committed suicide. The band wrote a song One More Light for one their friend who died of cancer. Somehow, my association of the song was more related to Chester Bennington’s suicide than anything else. I think it is the context of the song that matters. Sometimes, we take signs of suicide too lightly and wrote them off as some wild thoughts, our loved ones shrugged our thoughts of self-death as non-sense, out of fear or the lacking in understanding and openness to talk about suicide.

Well, boys, I do. I do want to talk to you both if you wants someone to talk to about killing yourself. About suicide, about gays and lesbians. I’m your dad, and somehow have I am gifted this unique exposure towards suicide.

Getting over it

There is, unfortunately, no getting over it. It is part and parcel of life, and just like flu, you will ‘get it’ again and again. The thoughts of suicide continues to linger around me, and if I slipped into the darker character of Randy Lim, yes, death is always there. But unlike flu, there is no visible symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, depressions and other mental conditions cannot be seen outwardly. Which is why Chester’s death is so haunting for me. He was okay and laughing and having family time 36 hours before he killed himself. He was happy, or so it appears to be.

So it will come and it will go, and let it go (of course!) when it leaves and if it stays longer than you are comfortable, your mum and dad are here for you to talk to.

Telling it like it is.

There is no sugar coating, no code word or whatsoever. Boys, if you have a feeling of wanting to kill yourself, just come to us and say: ‘Mum/ Papa, I feel like killing myself.’ We will not judge you, nor will be shrug you off like it was nothing. If you have suicide thoughts, we are here, we will drop everything and talk. Thanks to your mum’s chat, he voice and presences grew larger than the suicidal thought and when I think about suicide, I think of her, and everything is okay.

Suicide is the ultimate leveler

Suicide, if properly done, leads to death. There is no turning back from death. No saves, no close call, nothing, once you’re dead, you stay dead. And death has no age limit, gender or political orientation, you kill yourself you die. Period. And you can die at any age, time and space.

I don’t care if you are nine, or ninety, if you want to kill yourself, you can talk to me, boys.

thoughts taken off an eight year old’s school journal

 

 

No Permanent Friends, No Permanent Enemies

Dear boys,

Humans are the strangest creatures, making friends one moment, and enemies the next.

Your Grandma’s experience

Last week, while we are at your Grands’ house, for our usual Saturday get-together, your grandma revealed an unhappy episode she had when she was in Secondary 2. She mentioned that the senior Sec 3 girls would pass their past year materials to their junior Sec 2 girls to copy, so that the juniors can have some advantage into their tests. Your grandma also ‘enjoyed’ such a privilege, until one day her friends turned on her. Her group of friend started avoiding her like she was a plague.

She couldn’t understand why, given no reason, she was perplexed. Eventually she managed to find out from her best friend, who somewhat sheepishly told her that their Sec 3 senior girls, told the rest of them not to share these materials with Kan Tee (Your grandma) as she didn’t want to go to church with them.

Your grandma was no pushover. To hell with that, she studied on her own. And during the good times, they will all walk to school together, and now, whilst they still walk the same way, it was a frosty walk, no one would talk to your grandma, and she kept to herself as well.

Eventually, the girls failed their test, and your grandma passed it. We jokingly say that Grandma’s Guanyin, is more powerful than the girls’ God.

It is not about the religion, but about the people who likes to group together. It is a common in-group and out-group phenomenon.

Your dad and mum’s experience

We too encountered our own share of relationship woes, with friends and colleagues. Both your parents encountered wonderful and lovely people as colleagues, folks we felt close and have that great friendship with. We talked to these friends and colleagues about everything, and some, even invited to our houses and vice versa.

All can fall apart the next day.

No given reason or revelations.

When we were younger, it hurts us in some ways. We like to think we have a healthy ego and we can socialise quite well, we can make friends take care of them, and them take care of us. That is a great feeling to know that we can build on these friendships to count on years later.

It was not, never meant to be.

It has been quite a few years ago and it happened to me more than twice, the hurt is no longer there, but it was replaced with a immense sense of curiosity. Why? Why did these seemingly good friendly folks turn? Colleagues who lunched and laugh at your silly jokes, you laughing at theirs, suddenly stop asking you out for lunch, buys everyone coffee except for you, no longer small talk, chit chat with you, no longer asks you ‘How’s you day?’ They just stopped caring about you and aiming to effectively wiped away your existence, socially.

I felt quite lousy, insignificant and somewhat indignant back then.

Not so much these days.

It made a difference I have your mum, and you mum have me. With the both of us, we pretty don’t quite give a f**k about what happened at work. Your mum is my pillar, and she came from a more complete family, she has her family to fall back on, no matter what friends and colleagues does to her. I relied more of my social circles to give me my sense of worth, and this kind of ‘sudden relationship winter’ hit me hard. But your mum has always been there for me, and it took me some time to accept her as my solace.

But that’s that. We are all much older now and I have grown not to take these kind of cliffhanger relationships personally anymore.

In the latest spat, I learned that some things was said about me, in my absence, and people started distancing themselves from me, typical signs of a drop coming. I’ve seen it all happen before.

Not to be affected, I continue with my work. People chit chat and joked around me, not involving me in their conversation, when I am clearly, physically in the room. I hear all the banter going on, and people asking each other about their personal lives, weaving care and concern all around. I just have this cold, hard shell, and continue plowing into my work. Keeping myself busy at work, helps you keep away from all these subtle insidious  negative attacks. The aim of making you invisible is to make you feel bad, and them feel good.

I felt nothing, no good no bad, its a job, do it well and go home. I only feel bad if I don’t do a good job.

It will be over soon

Good times like bad times always ends, no matter what. Friends always comes and go, so does your haters. No one stays at a spot forever, well, at least not let yourself be the one. Move on and find something new. After a few years, these haters will no longer know why they hated you, or did those things to you. Heck, some might need you to do something for them in future. If your haters need you to help them, help them. It is not because you need to prove them wrong, you help because you can, period.

So while at times, especially when it is happening, it might seem like it will go on forever, but it doesn’t. Always remember what happens at work stays at work, you boys have a family to come back to. At home we can heal each other from the hurt we got outside in the big bad world. And over time, it will all be buried in the past, even the hurt to appear to have will be gone.

While the world may judge you boys badly, you can always come home where no one judges you destructively. There are no enemy in our family.

 

 

 

 

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Why have Children?

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Dear Boys,

In case you are wondering, why should you be having children in the future, please read this.

In Singapore, you don’t need to have kids.

the boys with the toys
The boys with their toys

Kids adds no value to our society, regardless of what the government says.

Farmers needs kids, Cosmopolitans do not

It has been my long held beliefs, that in our urban, concrete society, there is no need to have kids. What do you need the extra ‘headcount’ for? You need to spend a long amount of time, energy to raise little humans, and despite of all that, as parents you might not get to reap the benefits. There is no economic benefits having kids.

But in an agricultural landscape, farmers, need kids, that additional manpower, when properly invested can help to till the fields, feed the livestock, and do other farming stuff. it will be ‘cheaper’ to have 6 to 8 kids and these additional hands will help around the household.

In modern Singapore, apartments are getting smaller, and it is made for couples in mind. Despite of what the government says to encourage making babies after marriage, houses these days are simply not big enough to have more people living together. Kitchen is getting smaller, because people are cooking less now. Everyone is out working, husbands and wives, who has time for cooking, much less taking care of babies???

Gender equality

Speaking of which, I am not a chauvinist. Women and men has equal rights, but vastly different biological responsibilities. Everyone has earning power these days, and some women earns more than men, why would these women give up their monetary superiority to become a mother? What’s the cost benefits analysis for that? Women these days spend better days getting branded bags, going for Pilates, and yoga, than to stay at home, nursing unreasonable babies, sucking off their sore nipples, looking all unglam and so uncool.

Again, I would like to say I am not a chauvinist. To have kids, sacrifices has to be made, men are not reliable, so women has to earn for themselves, and make themselves independent. That’s fine, but becoming a full -time mum doesn’t mean that you are not independent. In fact I see your mum, not earning, living off my salary, a very independent and strong willed woman in her own right.

We have biologically different responsibilities

Feminism is good, but when feminism goes Amazonian way, then it is bad. For child bearing, it takes 2, male and female. Until science comes along to change that, it will be like that, most animals are like that.

Humans want to be different. Women wants to think that they can be equal to men, better than men. When women starts to think like that, then that is the end of our race. Women can never be equal or superior to men, because women are different from men. Men need women to be women so that there can be a balance.

Things loses equilibrium when women fights for a zero sum game of gender equality. We are never made to be gender equal nor neutral. But our society and workplace demands that we do, for the sake of equal employment, and avoiding politically sensitive gender discrimination. We refrain from calling female ‘manageress’ and stick with manager, to represent both genders, because we do not want to discriminate the sex.

But we have to.

Because both men and women are different. until we can learn to accept that difference and let women be women, then there is a chance that there will be balance in a marriage.

Money talks

It is all not that bad. Like I said it, a society like Singapore, you don’t need kids. You just need money. You have money, you can buy things that makes you comfortable. Your mum and I agreed all the money we spend raising the both of you, could have helped us traveled the world. We could have car(s) and nice houses.

When we are old, can we depend on the both of you to take care of us? Not quite, but as childless couples,  we can employ maids, or check ourselves into retirement homes. Or if we keep ourselves fit enough, we might live a longer healthier lives. Anyway, our demise, if we do not have the both of you, will be the State’s problem. The government will make sure we die properly and our bodies disposed off. Who needs kids? Our personal effects? That’s the government’s problem.

Just have enough money to pay for that to be settled, even when our heart stops beating.

So why?

Since there is much more pros to not having children why did we end up having not one but two?

The Kiss

One recent afternoon, I was lazying, half slumber on the couch, my eldest son, came over and gave me a peck on the cheek. I’m one satisfied dad.

Wayne on my chest
Wayne on my chest, 9 years ago

Stress? Where Got?

Stress? Where Got?

Dear Boys,

I asked Ian a straight question:”Are you stressed?”

“No” Came a straight answer.

I asked that when I read 2 articles from The Straits Times and it is all about children being stressed out. Recently there are some cases of children committing suicide due to ‘stress’. While I am a parent and father, I do not want to critic those incidents, other than to share my grief, I do not want to see either one of you die before me, by means of taking your own life. There are better ways to get things done, and solve life problems.

straits time 1
screen grab from The Straits Times

straits time 2
Screen grab from The Straits Times

Committing suicide is a stupid, stupid thing to do and it solves no problem other than to bring grief to those who are left behind. Please don’t kill yourself.

So what is this ‘stress’ all about?

It starts with the parents.

I’m stressed out at work sometimes, when my boss gets to anal about my performance (He is a great boss, and I have great colleagues, but shit do happen at work!), so I do come home with a dour face. Bad mood, foul, quick temper, yes your dad has it, you both has seen it.

Which is why I am forever thankful to your mum. She knows how good or bad things are with me in the office, and she always tries her best to soften things up before The Papa comes home. She’ll give you both ‘advance’ warning to stay clear from me, put toys back in the right place, things neat and tidy, well as much as the both of you can help it. Live firing in progress.

More importantly, she soften things, by explaining what happens at work to the both of you. We try to be as open about the trials and tribunals of life. When we are cash strapped and we need to tighten a bit, she explained it to the both of you.  When I have a shitty day, she explained it to the both of you. She also explains and tell me about the days for the both of you, and that helps me ‘adult-speak’ with her.

You both are kiddos, what do you understand about stress, if we do not explain it to you both? We as parents have long learned that you both learn fastest and best through example, good, bad, and the ugly. So we explain everything, the best we can. We do not want you both to pick up the sullen, dour, foul, depressive mood, without ever knowing why, or sorting out your feelings about it. So we do our best, not to shield the both of you from our sullen, dour, foul, depressive mood, we don’t try to pretend that everything is fine and dandy. We explain that life can be shitty at times, and you parents are doing our best to roll with the punches.

大人的事小孩子不要管!!!

I think this is all where it went south for us as parents, now raising the new generation called cotton candies. I was brought up that way too. As a kid, my parents didn’t really tell me adult things, and they would rather hide these issues from my elder brother and me. These issues, were of course, complex decision making that was top down. We as kids, did our kids thing, while the ‘higher management’ deal with high level matters, such as finance, relationships, and other ‘adult’ things. We as kids, were not privy to such matters, nor were we guided in anyway.

Whenever we ask, they will tell us that it is adult stuffs they are handling and children won’t understand, and shoo us away. In fact we do, because when an ‘Adult’ says, “children should be seen not heard”, we as children, incidentally, sees everything and hears a heck a lot more. Shielded, protected, cocooned. For our own good these ‘adults’ often say! So we as children back then, learned these ‘best practice’ from our parents, and now as adults and parents ourselves, we do these to our kids since this is the best way to parent children. We have made a very conscious choice not to bring the both of you up like that. We want to provide guidance, to make sure you boys hear things as it is, and sees that life is highly complex and it is not a bed of roses. It never is and it never will be.

As your dad, the head of the family, I make the decisions, often dictatorial of course. You both, many a times bear the consequences of those decisions, good or bad. I always try my best to explain. In my lexicon, there is no ‘adult’ thing to shield from the both of you. Your parents also do not paint a rosy picture of happiness, materialism or good life to the both of you. We want to be grounded, pragmatic and transparent. There is nothing we don’t tell the both of you, and we expect the same in reciprocation. Thankfully, you both do, tell us, things that is happening in your life.

We here your pain

This is no typo error, we want to be present for your pain and suffering, physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. I never profess that I can wish them away, nor can I buy a upscale Nerf gun to soothe your suffering. We want to be there for your growing pains. We know you feel them, just as we felt them when we were younger. We cannot take away your pain, we do not want to shield you from your suffering, but if we can do something to lessen that, you boys know we will. Not just lip service, superficial rub on the head.

We are here for you, both, deep, long conversations, to help the both of your become stronger after you both are broken. We don’t have a sweep under the carpet mentality. You as our boys, sees life, our life, your life full on, in all glory.

sweeping-under-the-carpet

There is no calm in life

Sorry, that is the cold, hard truth. Tell you both something, at my age and maturity, I (still) have a monkey mind, and the irony now is that they want to teach you kids how to be mindful so as to find ‘inner calm‘.They REALLY expect a kid to find ‘inner peace’??? First and foremost, I feel, if anyone needs that piece of mind(fulness), it is the parents, they are the ones transferring all the stress to the children. Even with so many years of martial arts training, your dad is ever so mindful, not to let the mind fool me, with mindfulness.

There you have it, reality sucks, really. I don’t want my kids to be raised with some esoteric, hippy mumbo jumbo mind tricks(Pardon my French), but I want the both of you to know life as it is, there is no calm. There is ups and downs, there are highs and lows. I want the both of you to be resilient. resourceful and responsible. If you boys do find inner peace along the way, then that’s good, but right now it is not needed to get through your childhood, what you both need is your parents to parent the both of you a little lesser, and let you kids, be kids.

Links:

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/kids-find-inner-calm-through-mindful-breathing?xtor=CS1-10

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-children-and-teens-are-stressed-out?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&xtor=CS1-10#link_time=1489462100

 

Child-led Parenting

Child-led Parenting

Dear Boys,

Your mum and I were chatting in bed and we realised that a lot of kids with good grades are getting what they want. When they get good grades, they are entitled, rewarded, encouraged to have things done their way. If you get an ‘A+’, you can spend all the time you want in front of a computer, and play games all day.

Children are any parents’ gem. I love the both of you dearly, and like any parents, I would do whatever I can for you, and make your world a better place. But please remember, the world was here first, and your world is nothing but a small part of a larger world, and the world do not evolve nor revolve around you.

Let me tell you boys something else, like the world was here before you, your parents are here before you.

Having better grades or being smarter than your parents does not put the both of you in the leadership spot. I am The Dad, and I still runs the house. My rule stands, if you want to run a house, go get your own, go get your own woman, and make that woman your wife. Until then, I lead the pack. Not you, the children.

Parents relinquishing their authority to their children raise brats. Period.

Children don’t rule the world, they never did, and when we let them, bad shit happens when they grow up. They will think that they are able to get anything they want, without care or consequences. If we allow them to have their gratifications as long as they secure a good grade, we are cultivating a very narrow band of life values. And just because children get good grades, doesn’t make them pack leaders. Child-led parenting style upsets the natural pecking order in the house.

It is getting very prevalent, as more and more parents are not stepping up to be parents, but they are simply, Adults with Children. The parents of these adults probably didn’t or failed to impart the right parenting skill-set, or they was exposed to child-led parenting template before and this is what they thinks works best. It doesn’t, but without the right values, adults who grow up to become parents, have no idea how to manage children, with the right leadership and authority.

Ethics Values and Principles (EVP of Life)

Getting good grades does not automatically qualifies one as a good human being. Being smart does not means one is wise. Clever is sometimes turned into deceit, when self-centredness becomes a person’s core motivation. When we parents do not set the parameters right, we are linking the wrong consequences to the action. While we can reward our child with computer game time if they get good grades, we need to bring to their attention and awareness that they get what they got, doesn’t means that they have gotten everything.

By everything, I don’t mean to simply aspire them to get better grades. If in Primary 5, you get 90%, you can have 2 hours of game time, that does not naturally equate that if you subsequently get 95% you can get 3 hours of game time. This kind of rewards structure teaches the exact value that leads kids astray.

Everything means, the value of hard work, having good ethics to help people, weaker classmates, instead of ostracizing them, be principled and argue for the good, admitting to wrong when wronged. As kids, do not negotiate nor bargain with your parents for gains. There is no negotiation, parents give, children receive.

When children gives good results, does the parents receive?

This is crazy and skewed.

I’ve long said, the results, good and bad are yours to keep, boys. I do not stand in the way to bask in the limelight of your good results. Your grades, is not my bragging rights, they are yours. You go to a good school, that is your merit, you go to a bad one, that is also your doing. While I love to be proud as a parent to have kids getting good academic results. I’d prouder if you boys grows up becoming good decent human beings, who are not extraordinarily smart, doesn’t save the world, but remembers to greet the people, show respect to the elders, is gratuitous, still laughs at the silliest jokes, have fun. And enjoys being in our company when we are old.

The conduct as a decent human being is more important than a grade, remembering where you came from is more important than a grade. Remembering your lessons learnt in failures is more important than the celebration of your success. Remembering and honoring those who have helped you,is more important than becoming a champion.

 

 

Yesterday is always better/worse

Yesterday is always better/worse

Your future and my past is very different

Dear Boys,

In your lifetime, you will certainly hear this from other people, and it usually goes something like:

“Back in those days…” or “In my time, things were a lot tougher! easier! better! worse!” Or “compare to our times…”You youngsters had it easy!”

Well, your dad, will probably pull the same script on you from time to time and I have been told umpteenth times by folks from all walks of life, young and old, the same thing.

People will always try to compare things. And when they compare, there will only be 2 outcomes that will influence their decision making;

1- things were better in the past, so if currently things are worse off I’d better do something.

2- if things were worse in the past, and we have it better now, we’d better do something.

We all have to do something, irrespective of how well or bad things were in the past. You job, as the future, is to make things the best you can, with your resources at your given specific time and space. Sure people like to reminiscence things, tell you things of their good ‘ol days, don’t be fooled into thinking that you had it better, you will not. Neither did you had it worse, you didn’t.

‘In my days’, when I was in national service, I wore helmets dating back to the Vietnam War, Kevlar helmets was considered a luxury, and our instructors used that as a motivation for us to do well in our obstacle course, saying we get to wear ‘Air-con’ helmets, owing to its more cooling design. Nowadays, all helmets in the Armed forces are Kevlar, and the newer ones are even better than the ones I had. I’m telling you boys this, is not to tell you that you are going to have it better. Well that is a given, but the task at hand is still very much a challenging one. It never has been any better.

So the point is, don’t envy, if someone had it better in their heydays, don’t gloat if someone’s worse off than you. That was that, this is now. Your future and my past is very different, I will tell you boys stories, my experiences, do some of these “in my days things’ but please understand it from your context, not mine. Use my experiences as lessons, understand that problems then were different, solutions to those problems are different too. You will have your own set of problems and requires the solutions that is only appropriate at your time. Take away one thing though, the spirit, attitude to problem solving is the same, you must apply the same tenacity, dedication and focus to solving them, the problems you have now and the problems you will have in future. And when you tell you children and the newer generation your ‘In my days’ story, please remember, that was in your days, not theirs! So give them a break!

First published June 15, 2015

Tips from a Taxi Driver

Tips from a Taxi Driver

IMG_0187Dear Boys,

Taxi rides can be some of the most interesting life lessons you can learn. Some of the Taxi Drivers are a chatty lot and they are most willing to catch up with you on what their life has been, their grapevines, nuggets of their taxi story.

We took a cab home one night after visiting your Uncle U-Wei for Chinese New Year and we had to hail a cab home. We got a cab and I took the ‘shotgun’ seat next to the driver and the three  of you (mum included) climbed into the backseat.

Conversations in Taxi are usually serendipitous, it is not all the time you get to chat them up, some Taxi Uncles are not chatty by nature, so you’ll play by ears, sometimes you are too tired, and don’t want to strike up a conversation, the taxi uncle will sense that and leave you alone. But my chat with this taxi uncle was good.

2 daughters

He has been driving long since his 2 daughters were born and based on what he said, that should be more than 20 years of driving experiences. I remembered that I just told you boys something about work; sometimes, you just have to be frugal and work, even when you are earning the lowest of income, you can still send your kids to university. Many taxi drivers and other hardworking ‘blue collar’ workers does exactly that, so work hard, spend little and you can raise a generation.

Anyway, he told me that both his kiddos has completed tertiary education and the youngest one has just recently gotten her Bachelor’s degree and will be going off to Japan with her friends on a 1 month free and easy. At that point, in my mind was going stereotypical, she must have used her parents’ hard-earned money to go and have her fun. That I was wrong, his youngest daughter has an entrepreneurial spirit and has been selling cosplay items and collectibles online, and she has been making a tidy sum, enough to self fund her $5000 trip to Japan. Not bad.

SONY DSC

Cosplay

Both daughters are into cosplay, and the younger daughter even met her boyfriend in cosplay, and has been in a steady relationship for about 5 years now. Well, I’m not exactly a big fan of cosplay, but here I am sitting with a taxi driver dad, who has 2 daughters doing that! He was being pretty open about it, and said that the kids are grown up and there is nothing much he can do as a parent to influence them, they are independent and has their own thinking.

 

Taxi driving tips and techniques

As a taxi driver, he has his ways to earn his money. For Chinese New Year, he drove on the first day to make sure he covers the cost for the taxi for both the first and second day of the New Year; his taxi rental is $130 per day, so in order for him to go out for his Chinese New Year fun and not drive on the second day (初二) he has to earn about $300 buck for the first day.

He also has his maths done. I asked him about the new car which comes with a higher rental (most gripes of taxi drivers), he said while the rental is more, it used to be $100, but the new cab is more fuel efficient. The same cab for a 400km trip, needs about 40liters worth of full tank, the new cab is about 32 liters, and not taking into consideration that it used to be $1 per liter and now it is at 70cents. So the new cab do help him save a bit.

Long trip versus short trip

He said that he prefers to pick passengers with short trip, rather than long trip. For his statistics, he prefers to pick more trips, short trips to longer trips. The fare increment for short trips gives him a better advantage over long trips. He would like to cover more short trips with fares about $5-$8 which will be over in about 5-10 minutes than to take a long cross island trip that cost $20-$30 which will take more time. He has his sums done up.

Lunch time crowd versus night time crowd

He also shared that lunch time crowds are better for short trips. There are office workers going from Shenton Way to Suntec City for lunch; four people will hail a cab instead of taking their own car, and for a far of $5-$8, splitting it between 4 people, helps them saves time and hassle of MRT trip.

Nightime, however, he will pick up more long trip passengers. who perhaps goes from one side of the island to another. Perhaps late night drinkers going from their watering hole at Clark Quay back to home at Pasir Ris?

Its nice to talk to him about his life in such candid manner, being a taxi driver is a tough life and I’m glad I, as his customer was able to let him have an easy drive

It was a nice experience talking to this Taxi Uncle and not only was my chemistry with him good, his road sense was impeccable. It is seldom come across a Taxi driver who knows where I stay down to the carpark. when I told him our address, he clarified it down to our block number and took us home, without me telling him much about how to get there.

It certainly made my day with such a pleasurable ride!