Saturday, October 12, 2013

Civility is not a sign of weakness

I have been self-indulgent in pursuing my work and personal matters. These past months of have been a serendipitous in the main with the odd spikes of exigencies which require urgent attention. By and large I have been in cruise mode. I have been and, still am, in a happy mode.

I read a piece of fiction in my college years where the author had a narrative about the necessity of maintaining a degree of tension, some measure of tautness in one's emotional outlook on things, in order to produce excellent work, be it in the arts or any vocation. In short, one needs a degree of unhappiness to keep up the good work!

That has always struck me as being a bleak assessment of things; don't you think?

But, it is, sadly, true.

There have been a widely held perspective that Nobel Prizes awarded in the sciences have tended been in honour of work done by the recipients when they were below 35 years of age. 

This demographic perspective is consistent with my own experience.

Was it not Confucius who said, thus-

“The Master says: At 15, I set my heart on learning. At 30 I know where I stand (my character has been formed). At 40, I have no more doubts, at 50, I know the will of Heaven, at 60 my ears are attuned (i.e. my moral sense is well-developed), at 70, I follow my heart’s desire without crossing the line (without breaking moral principles).” 

So, if I may hazard an observation, it would be that if one experiences a measure of happiness and contentment, one's creative tension is commensurately reduced; a happy and contented person has less desire to push the envelope, so to speak.

Is this a bad thing?

I think not.

My recent experience in engaging people everywhere, while at work, while shopping, while anywhere, has proven that my happier persona has percolated and transferred some degree of happiness to people I have contact with.

Is this a bad thing?

I think not.

The salutary effect of my present emotional state is that when I skim read all the things relating to recent Malaysian political matters I do not experience any strong emotions. I just see all the goings on as a sick game of politics.

My hope is that the players and their sycophantic followers know that it is what it is, a mere game.

My concern is that the game may be taken too seriously with dire consequences.

I leave you with one of my favourite phrases from JFK's Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961-

Civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog photo is of a place where once peoples of all races mingle freely without any tinge of racism. In the past few years, there has been an upsurge in numbers of people from a particular race and faith who thinking they are the majority elsewhere act like they own the right to show their displeasure at the free and happy intermingling between different races, colors and faiths. That's how serious things have become. It might be a game up there but down on the ground, 'civil' has been taken off 'civilisation' to be replaced by some exotic version of 'malay-isation'. Don't underestimate the tragedy unfolding today. It will grow until the weak in heart and mind succumb completely. It is all the more a tragedy because native malays practising the christian faith seem open-minded and therefore better able to interact more harmoniously with others different from them. Given the basis of peace and harmony, you would think such should be encouraged even more, don't you?