Let’s be friends

Last Sunday I spent some time on the beach in Singapore and noticed a laughing group of young people taking pictures of each other. One girl in small bikinis was posing to the camera, being photographed by another girl – wearing a burkha.

I’m too new to Singapore to try and make any expert comments on its integration and cultural policies. Yet it’s obvious that something is right in here, when two girls of such obviously different cultural / religious up-bringings feel so utterly comfortable with each other.

Has Singapore succeeded in finding the way for universal acceptance of one another? Singapore is known for boosting cultural tolerance and for strict measures against racial or religious discrimination. Buildings have quotas for people from different religions and cultural backgrounds, to avoid buildings or full neighborhoods being inhabited by one majority group only. Headscarves are an option for school and work uniforms and all major religions’ most important holidays are celebrated and declared for public holidays.

Certainly there are some underlying tensions, intolerance and even racism. But judging by the appearance on the streets, Singapore seems to have found an admirable level of unity and acceptance. What those 2 girls and their friends on the beach can teach us, is that it’s okay for you to do things your way and for me my way. We can still be friends.

Limits on Controversial Conversation Topics?

Part of my daily job is to coordinate the work of our social media team and share interesting news and stories on the sustainability issues to our wider network. On most days I love this part of my job, being allowed to spend time reading interesting articles and engaging in sustainability discussions. But what to do when the chosen article for the day relates to a topic I don’t feel comfortable with?

Raising awareness on climate change, sustainability and other developmental topics will include controversial discussion points as well. In our company Linked-In group, we want to initiate discussion on these themes. Typically you get more attention by posting something controversial and especially by formulating the discussion topic or question to be thought-provoking. “Have indigenous people been forgotten on sustainability discussions?” Is nuclear power an option or a necessity?”

I love controversy and provocation, don’t get me wrong. I’ve always loved heated discussions and poking others, provoking people to challenge their perspectives. But I faced a real challenge with my morals when I had to decide on publishing, and formulating a question, on animal cloning for food production. China, (who else) is the front-runner on animal cloning for food production and the article we wanted to re-publish was about a biggest animal cloning factory they are constructing.

Even though I’m against any kind of cruelty towards animals or treating animals solely as products meant for human consumption or entertainment instead of as living, feeling beings, I decided this topic needed attention. Similarly as an earlier article exploring domestic violence as an economic issue. Even if uncomfortable, these topics need to be brought into light. Controversial topics and questions force people to get out of their comfort zones, provoke emotions and finally can achieve a response. Bubbles will burst if poked.

“Animal cloning – Question of ethics/safety or the future of food production?” What would you say?

Getting Started

That’s always the tricky part, isn’t it? Getting started. With a new task at work, chores at home, getting out of bed in the morning, writing a blog.

We all have things we like to pass on to tomorrow if they don’t necessarily need to be done today. Are we lazy? Perhaps. Or perhaps our body and mind have developed this as a coping strategy for the hectic lifestyles we lead.

My work requires lots of planning and re-planning, coordination with team members, meetings and multi-tasking that after work I have absolutely no desire to have any schedules or responsibilities. I let my mind live in the moment, do what I get a feeling for doing. Sports, catching up with friends, reading or writing.

Plans and schedules for the “free time” can help to get the most out of it though. Because without some prior thinking as to what my mind or body might tell me they want after work, I might not be able to arrange it anymore. Best is to have an array of options and then go with the flow. Get started and then live on.