Friday, November 27, 2009

Post-war Iraq and its broken minds

This is an extract from a book on America in Iraq - "The Assassins' Gates" by George Packer.

I like that the author talks about the psychological devastation left behind by the war. Post-war reconstruction is not just about building institutions, the economy and infrastructure. It the software is malfunctioning - if the minds of the people are still broken - then the hardware will inevitably fail.


The line between justifiable paranoia and outright delusion wasn't easy to draw in Iraq. Dr. Butti - the chief psychiatrist at a hospital in Baghdad - himself was having trouble making up his mind about the Americans. In the turbulent weeks following the fall of the regime he didn't know which way to turn, fearing for his own safety and distrusting equally Iraq's new political groups and the American's ability to create a decent society.

The looting had been a terrible blow to their natural allies in the middle class. Now, people like him were hesitant to stick their necks out. "Is it that we are paralyzed," he asked, "or that the American administration is paralyzing the situation so they can come up with their own ideas?"


With a few old classmates from Baghdad's Jesuit high school, Dr. Butti was setting up an NGO called the Baghdad Rehabilitation and Development Group. One of its proposals was the construction of the Gilgamesh Centre for Creative Thinking. In the prospectus, Dr. Butti wrote with perhaps a bit of self-criticism:

A great number of Iraqi people are suffering a great deal because of the severed communication with the civilized world, they suffer from lacking the ability to communicate with the others, they have lost the hope in the future, they suspect anything foreign, they are not sufficient in their professional performance, they don't feel enough responsibility towards the society, they don't feel enough responsibility towards the society, they lack the power to experience freedom, they don't comprehend the correct performance of democracy, they cannot deal with group working...etc. Rebuilding what the war has destroyed is a simple effort if compared with the task of rebuilding the distorted human person.


Come to think of's funny how Singapore suffers some of the same symptoms:

they don't feel enough responsibility towards the society, they lack the power to experience freedom, they don't comprehend the correct performance of democracy, they cannot deal with group working

Hahaha! Maybe we need to fix our minds too...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The root of Singapore's intellectual vacuum

I'm currently reading a book titled "The Assassin's Gate" by George Packer, about the politics of the Iraq war and I realised something about Singapore.

We have no interesting people here. Parker talks of how he met an Iraqi intellectual in exile in the US, who envisioned a new democratic Iraq, and how he was highly educated, extremely intelligent and an idealist.

And I realised, we will never meet characters like that in Singapore, which makes life here so devoid of ideals, and overwhelmed by pragmatism. Pragmatic economic survival is all we know because we have never met people who are victims of ideological struggles.

"Ideology" to us is fluff, "Human Rights" is a dirty word and "Democracy" is a sham.

"We are nothing without economic prosperity" - the government never fails to remind us. And over time, if the only people we are exposed to are bankers, financiers and businessmen (and ok...institutionalised artists), we will come to fully and utterly internalise this myth.

Economic prosperity is a drug. Look at us Singaporeans. We have had economic prosperity for decades. Are we happy? No. Are we better people? No. What are we? We are bored and unfulfilled, constantly plagued by the insatiable desire to have more, buy more, own more and spend more.

I remember when I was living in India, South Africa and Europe, I felt like ideas were real and I could live with less. I met with people who were children of refugees and political exiles from Iran, Palestine, parts of Africa etc. To these people, ideology was the stuff of life. It was what they lived for and what they lived by.

What do we as Singaporeans live for? Do we even know what we live by?

Call this a whim of the young middle class generation. I think its far more than that. Our parents lived through different times. They suffered poverty first and now prosperity. We started out with prosperty but suffer a poverty of mind. Do we not have a right to change that?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Xinjiang 3 months after the riots

Interesting piece in the BBC today:

A tale of two cities under siege

Urumqi is a city under siege - there are patrols of soldiers and armed police in full riot gear everywhere.

In a 10-minute walk along the city streets you are likely to encounter four or five of them, each composed of a dozen or so men.

The tension is evident - few people are prepared to speak about what happened here, and none openly.

One Uighur woman spoke to us in secret about the events of 5 July.

She witnessed the murder of two ethnic Chinese by a gang of Uighurs.

"People were going crazy," she said. Altogether, 198 Chinese died that day.

Then, two days later, Chinese gangs carried out revenge killings of Uighurs.

No official figures have been issued, but the woman thought about 10 Uighurs had been killed.

House arrest
The authorities are very nervous about the presence of foreign journalists.

Access to ordinary people was limited by authorities. Everywhere we went in Urumqi my television team and I were followed, sometimes by three unmarked police cars at a time.

And when we flew on to Kashgar, where many of the more militant Uighurs involved in the riots came from, the police detained us at the airport.

We were allowed to stay in Kashgar until the next morning, but everywhere we went a contingent of police followed us and prevented our filming or interviewing anyone.

It was clear they thought we had come to meet Islamic fundamentalists, and were determined to stop us.

That night, we were kept under house arrest at a hotel in the centre of Kashgar.

Ethnic violence is something that worries the Chinese government deeply. It threatens the cohesion of the entire country.

Most disturbing of all for the Chinese authorities, though, is the growing influence of Islamic extremism

The immediate cause of July's rioting seemed small enough - rumours spread that two Uighur workers had been killed by the police in south-east China, thousands of miles away.

Yet the hostility towards ethnic Chinese which many Uighurs in Xinjiang feel is so intense that trouble broke out at once.

The origins for this hostility are complex. The Chinese government has often treated Uighurs generously, offering promising students places at good universities and making it easy for them to work elsewhere in China.

Yet many remain wretchedly poor. Now the poverty-stricken areas of cities like Urumqi and Kashgar are being knocked down and new housing is being built, but this often increases local resentment.

People see it as a direct attack on their traditions and culture.

Over the years, ethnic Chinese immigration into Xinjiang has sometimes been encouraged by Beijing and sometimes not, but the net result is that in Urumqi, their own capital city, Uighurs are now in a minority.

There are increasing signs of separatist feeling among them. The discovery of oil has convinced many Uighurs that if they were independent, they could be a viable state.

Most disturbing of all for the Chinese authorities, though, is the growing influence of Islamic extremism.

Uighurs say it scarcely existed before the mid-1990s, and that China was slow in waking up to the challenge.

Now there are plenty of mosques, particularly in Kashgar, where fundamentalist Uighur imams are active.

The Chinese Communist Party, always nervous when any rival organisation or movement starts to attract support, has responded with the creation of new task forces.

Known as "social stability teams", they act partly as social security workers, addressing grievances, and partly as the eyes and ears of the authorities. Many Uighurs have been recruited to the teams.

We came across some of them in the slum area of Gulistan, a Uighur stronghold in Urumqi, as they were going from door to door.

They work closely with the undercover police, and in Gulistan they co-operated with the eight or more in plain clothes who were following us around.

Urumqi itself is quiet now. The big deployment of soldiers and police has ensured that.

But in Kashgar the authorities seem far less confident. Three months after the rioting, it is all too clear that the Chinese authorities have not yet got the situation under full control.

And they are plainly worried.

By BBC world affairs editor John Simpson

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A voice from Moderate Islam - 'Cow Head' Incident

This article was posted on Malaysiafm. More of such people should come forward to voice disagreement when their own religion is being manipulated to sow seeds of conflict and justify acts of violence and disrespect.

malaysiafm - 2 Sep 09
Of cow heads and arrogant Muslims
By Prof Mohd Tajuddin Haji Mohd Rasdi

I wish to comment on the 'cow head' incident in Shah Alam. As a Muslim and as a Malaysian citizen I do not support such a wanton display of disrespect for Islam and for Malaysia .

As a Muslim, my readings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad's traditions or hadiths have taught me to respect animals and other religions. With respect to animals, the Prophet warned Muslims against overburdening animals in carrying objects. The Prophet explained a story of how a prostitute was forgiven her sins by the simple act of giving a thirsty dog a drink.

The cow is one of the animals which Muslims slaughter not just for food but also as a sacrificial offering of our thankfulness to Allah as well as remembering Abraham's 'sacrifice' of his son Ismail. The cow is thus 'holy' to Muslims as well as to Hindus. Muslims sacrifice a cow for the aqiqah ceremony or during the Qurban celebrations.

Thus as a Muslim, we must respect animals that become our food as well as our symbolic act of sacrifice.Standing or putting once's foot on a dead cow is a 'biadab' act that speaks of a person steeped in racial bigotry and of a person low in education of Islam.

With respect to other religions, there were occasions where the Prophet taught me about my attitude towards them. Once, the Prophet stood up as a sign of respect when the body of a Jew was carried to the grave.

When dispatching the army to a campaign, the Prophet warned the soldiers from desecrating houses of worships, those who reside in them, the young and the old and even trees should not be cut down if necessary.

Never had the Prophet taught me to desecrate another person's religion. The great Indonesian scholar Hamka wrote in his magnum opus, Tafsir Al-Azhar that there are hundreds of thousands of 'Nabi' and they might even be the founders of other religions.

It is common to find other religious faiths making fun of Islam and Muslims but as a Muslim I will never be allowed by my religion to make fun of other religions much less to desecrate them.

As a Malaysian citizen, I wish to ask why these people who showed such contempt for the religion of the Hindus not be arrested under the Sedition Act? Were these people given permits by the police? If so why were they granted permits to desecrate another religion? Why were they not stopped and told to disperse? If Hindus can tolerate the Muslim call for prayers five times a day for the rest of their lives, what disruption can a Hindu temple be?

I live next to a Hindu Temple about 150 meters away and I observe a procession thrice or twice a year. It is quiet 362 days of the year.

Lastly, if these residents were proven to be members of any political party or parties, their membership should be revoked in order to ensure that we should not tolerate any political entity that uses racial hatred as their means of achieving political ends.

If not, then the said party or parties should be outlawed and their registration terminated immediately. After more than 50 years of merdeka, I still cannot raise five children without the threat of racial disharmony and hatred. What does that say about our present leadership and future of our country?

By :- Prof Mohd Tajuddin Haji Mohd Rasdi

God unites but religion divides

I had recently lost a dear friend, very suddenly. He had a heart attack while swimming in the sea and drowned as a result.

I'm Christian, he's Muslim. But we got on perfectly fine. We spoke often about our religions. We discussed the concept of God, salvation, heaven, hell. We shared our frustrations with our own religions, dogma, conservatism, and I realised we were not so different after all. We both belonged to a younger generation of Christians and Muslims, educated, middle class, and more exposed to the world beyond our national borders.

Yet, when I went to his funeral, I found myself struggling. How was I to pray for this dear friend of mine if my religion teaches that only believers of Jesus Christ can enter into the kingdom of Heaven? Should I pray that his family would come to know Christ some day? How can I be so presumptuous to think that they are wrong in their faith?

I prayed that God be with his family in the end. And I'm sure he has been. But I've thought long and hard about what all this means.

Can I be a true friend to those of a different faith?

We chose to focus on the similarities of our faith rather than the dogmatic differences. We chose friendship, peace and pluralism over religion, dogma and separatism. Yet, when it came to his last day, I had no peace in my heart. Blame it on my Christian upbringing? Perhaps.

But something another good friend told me is true. I cannot force myself to believe something that my heart doesn't agree to. And for the last decade, since I started thinking seriously about my faith, my heart tells me that going out there to try and convert as many people as I can is absolutely not the way to go.

Jesus didn't approach the gentiles preaching about how they were all going to hell if they didn't believe in him. He first loved them, healed them, fed them and prayed for them. The rest came of itself. They were moved by his life and his words because he lived them, not because he merely spoke them like the pharisees did.

The churches we see today are divided. What does this say about religion? While churches often report how we are in the midst of revival just because XX thousands of people made confessions of faith, but how many have continued in their faith and lived their faith? Do any of these churches keep track of these numbers? I doubt it, and for good reason, because I think they will only be disheartened.

Can we ever divorce God from religion? Can we not just call ourselves followers of God instead of Christian, Muslim or what not. Why are we wasting resources trying to convert people when we should be feeding the poor, protecting the oppressed, standing up against injustice. To say that this body is but temporary, which would be exchanged for a glorious and perfect one in heaven is but an excuse for inaction.

How do you expect someone who lived an entire life of poverty and oppression to die with no bitterness and anger towards God? How do u think such a person can enter into the glorious gates of heaven?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Missed the boats

In the last year since I came back to Singapore, I've been a bridesmaid twice, and had more wedding invitations, proposal events, engagement dinners, and hen parties than I can remember.

Superstition has it that once a woman is bridesmaid thrice, she's never getting married, and I'm just waiting for the third invitation this year. I know it's coming. I can feel it.

I really don't mind the weddings so much. It's nice to see couples in love. More than that, it's nice to see the gradual change from being friends, to being a couple and then husband and wife. There's something different in the way a couple behaves when they're married. The relationship is indelibly more matured. And it's great to see that it people still believe in "I want to spend the rest of my life with you". It gives me hope in a way.

But what's really irked me of late is finding out that a number of guys who used to have a crush on me back in school or college are now married, or getting married or have a baby!

Somehow it didn't hit me until my mom told me an old childhood friend (supposedly my first boyfriend when I was 6 or something) is getting married. Of course she had to add that I must "jia you".

It suddenly occurred to me, if all my ex-crushes are getting married, have I missed all my boats?

I didn't want to come back to Singapore partly because I was afraid I'd be carried away by this marrying spree. Every time I get a wedding invitation, I get the "when's your turn" question.

What kind of question is that? Makes me feel like cattle in a production line, waiting to be butchered. Ok, so I'm not doing my duty as a citizen to help boost the Chinese population in Singapore, and I'm not doing my duty as a daughter to give my parents grandchildren, nor am I doing my duty as a Christian by refusing to date another Christian.

What's wrong with that? Maybe I'm like what they like to call kids who don't do well in school here - Late Bloomers - or maybe I'm just plain not made for this game. Maybe I was made for something else.

Just don't ask me "when's your turn", cos' I might have already missed it, or sunk it completely.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Growing Up

My dad once told me when I was about 17 that I'm too idealistic, but that I should hold on to my ideals.

Then I turned 21 and again he told me (this time with a tad more exasperation) that I'm too idealistic and that life will teach me what reality is all about. He said he was afraid that life will disappoint me when I grow up.

Now I'm in my late twenties, and I finally know what he was talking about. I find myself today wondering if there can indeed be true altruism. Is there a humanitarian organisation that places its role of alleviating poverty and human suffering above its own political and self-serving interests? Are there christians who are kind to strangers without the intention of converting them? Is there a profession that focuses solely on the cause that it serves and not the returns it can bring to the individual or the company?

Can a person be just plain and simple nice, honest and open, without the risk of being manipulated, used, betrayed and stabbed in the back?

What is left of the innocence we once grew up with if this is the reality of life? Is it not possible for grown up adults to still hold on to the child-like faith in humanity - that men are essentially good; that good is stronger than evil; that you can trust in people; that as long as your conscience is clear and you believe in what you do, life will reward you?

A wise friend once told me that idealism and maturity are not mutually exclusive. One can mature in life and still be idealistic. After all, what is life without ideals?

The greatest thinkers in the world held on to their ideals well into a ripe old age and even took them to the grave. Franklin Roosevelt was 51 when he became president of the United States and created the New Deal; Karl Marx believed till his last breath that the proletariat emancipation can happen through communism; Obama is 48 and believes that beyond all odds, America is ready for big Change.

I sometimes feel discouraged by the vileness of the human pride. I like to believe that we all start out with the best of intentions, but sometimes fall victim to our own success. With the success comes flattery, then the power and the bloated ego seeps in ever so insidiously that we don't even realise that we've completely lost focus of the cause.

I refuse to accept that this is the best I can get out of life, and I refuse to let life eat away my idealism. I have precious moments kept in my heart of perfect strangers helping to fix my trash-can scooter in India and not accept a single rupee from me; friends who were there to hold my hand through the darkest moments of my life; my cleaners who are untouchables spending their month's wages to buy me a crucifix for christmas...the list goes on

If anything, life's taught me to cling on to my ideals, live for them, because without them, life won't be worth living.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BeAWARE: Keep religion out of civil society

So Reme, here's a new blog entry just for you.

I was two minds about whether to write about the recent AWARE saga or the adoption of the Slumdog millionaire actress, but thought I should diversify a little and not talk about India all the time :p

I've been following the shocking take-over of the AWARE leadership last couple of days and am appalled. This new group of women who have taken over AWARE obviously engineered a leadership grab, and have made it their personal vendetta to "consolidate" an organisation that has "diversified too much", "like any good corporation" would - in the words of its new president Josie Lau.

Firstly, the fact that the new president is talking about AWARE like she's talking about DBS Bank is very troubling. AWARE is NOT A CORPORATION for goodness sakes!!! When it comes to human needs, there is no such thing as too diversified. The people who set up AWARE drew no boundaries to what sort of women they help, regarding what issues.

The second most troubling thing is that these women are Christians! I'm Christian myself, and frankly I think they bring shame to Christianity. There is nothing Christian about the way they've handled this. I do not sense their compassion or empathy for women from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all sexual orientations, which Christianity teaches. And judging by Josie's response in today's paper, AWARE is soon to be AWARE PTE LTD.

I am shocked that such a thing could happen in Singapore, though I cannot say I'm not thrilled by such controversy in a city where nothing usually happens. But I also find it very disturbing that these women, majority with a conservative Christian background should come into a public organisation and impose their values on it.

It is fine with me when Christians confine their religious believes and practices to their own circle. We do after all live in a multi-religious society. But the same way you don't bring your religion into politics, don't bring it to civil society. This is the one space where people of all backgrounds, class, religion and sexual orientations come to seek emotional and social support. There is no place for religion here.

If they believe so strongly that AWARE is not doing the right thing, then they should just set up their own organisation for women, and keep their crusade under their own banner for Christianity, or whatever it is they believe they're representing. Why ride on the good name AWARE and its predecessors have established, only to undo all they've achieved?

As a Christian, I'm ashamed of what my fellow "believers" are doing here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Searching for Singapore's soul (Part 2): A losing battle for our dialects

I am truly appalled by the recent speak Mandarin drive. It says two main things:

1. that dialects are a negative interference on the learning of English and Mandarin

2. that it is restrictive because it only confines us to our ancestral village, town, or at best the province.

And to compound the absurdity of this argument, the Straits Times published a letter in the forum by an Ong Siew Chey who said:

Chinese should forget about dialects and stick to mandarin. Language is a tool and we should use the best tool available. Cultural and other values can be dissociated from languages...we do not lose much if we discard dialects

These arguments are highly flawed.

Firstly, a person's ability to learn a language is not a zero-sum game. The government should give Singaporeans greater credit for their capacity to learn. Any doctor will tell you that we do not have a fixed number of brain cells for the learning of languages and should therefore conserve them for only the languages that matter. If anything, my learning of a second and third language helped me appreciate the different languages more.

Granted, with limited time, one may argue that we should be focusing on the languages that matter. But being able to speak a language well has less to do with the number of hours one spends STUDYING it, than with the person's opportunity to practice it and understand the cultural significance of the language.

Which brings me to my next point. How can a person say that: "Cultural and other values can be dissociated from languages"???!!! Language and Culture are intrinsically linked! Good heavens! Which planet is this person coming from?!

Chinese opera sung in Mandarin as opposed to Hokkien can NEVER be the same. There are idoms, terms and phrases used in Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka etc that you cannot fully translate into Mandarin, and which are unique to the historical development of the dialect. You lose the dialect, and you lose the legends, myths and folklores of these communities.

Language is a tool, yes! But who ever said we should only work with one tool. Different tools are designed for different functions, so why rank them as best and second-best? And what's wrong with working with more than one tool?

Lastly, to say that dialects restrict us to only our ancestral town, or province is to have a very limited understanding of the function of language. Can and should we measure the value of a language based on the number of people who speak it? Must everything be valued by a quantifiable measure?

So what if only a village of 20 people speak that dialect? If one of that 20 is my grand father, that ONE person means a lot to me. And he is a part of my history and my family, which I will lose if I don't speak that dialect.

I speak from experience because my late grandparents were from Guang Zhou (a city in China), but I never learnt to speak cantonese. And I grew up very much detached from them, and I never bothered spending time with them because - "What would we talk about when I don't even speak their language?"

Nothing can be sadder than being total strangers with your own family and even when they passed on, I didn't really feel like I had lost a close family member.

Is this the kind of young generation the government really wants to nurture?

Dialects, like language, are a means of communication, and along with communication, peoples' ability to form relationships, identify with each other, and express feelings to each other. You take that away, and you break more than just the language, but the social bonds, sense of community and one's roots.

Did the government not once advocate Singaporean's living overseas to value one's roots and come back to Singapore instead of deserting? We were labeled "stayers" or "quitters".

Do our roots only stop at 1979 when the Speak Mandarin campaign was launched in Singapore?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Should we be searching for Singapore's soul? (Part 1)

I had just finished reading a book by Philip Pan, Out of Mao's Shadow: The struggle for the Soul of a New China.

The book started with a powerful presentation of the Tiananmen Massacre and a very stark contrast: before the communist revolution, the Nationalist party used water jets to quell student protests. But when the communist party came to power, they used guns and tanks in response to the students' demand for democratic reform and an end to corruption.

But what hit me harder, was the conclusion of the book, which I felt mirrored some of the issues we face here in Singapore. This is what he said in the concluding chapter:

The internet has emerged as an important venue for people with shared gather, talk and organise...The hard truth, however, is that many people aren't looking...[the communist party's] "patriotic education" classes in the schools have dulled the public's curiosity...the government has grown expert at manipulating public opinion, especially rallying nationalist sentiment to its side...The party's most important advantage, of course, is the wave of prosperity that it has been riding for more than a quarter century...the wealthiest and most influential tycoons...are the most likely to owe their wealth to the one-party system and the least likely to challenge it.

Indeed, this paragraph can be used to describe exactly Singapore. Singaporeans are very much plugged in to the world wide web, but yet to find people interested in discussing social issues in Singapore - the wrong attitudes we are having towards fertility and aging population problem, the importance of preserving our dialect as a fast disappearing link to our history and ancestry - is not so easy.

Indeed, from the western point of view business development is supposed to be good for democratic development. But the nature of business development in Asia is so different and they fail to understand that in a country where the private sector is nurtured by the state, the business community will be the last people to champion democratic reform.

A friend recently commented to me: "I'm less concerned with saving the world than saving my bank account". Indeed, the government has done a good job of setting the priorities for Singaporeans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

India vs Singapore

I was just in India couple of days ago and I noticed some interesting contrasts.

I was in a car with some friends on a day trip to Jaipur and as we were driving out of Delhi, our driver was pointing out several buildings along the way. He was telling us this building is owned by Ford, that plot of land is going to be developed into a mall, Toyota is going to build an extension etc etc.

I was amazed at how well informed he was about the urban developments of the parameters of Delhi, and his knowledge about big MNCs like Ford, Toyota, and some of the bigger names in India (which I can't even remember now). So I asked him how do you know all this? And he said he reads the paper everyday, both the Hindi and the English ones while waiting for tourists like myself to finish our shopping and sightseeing. As we talked more it was evident that he was very much in tuned to the politics and social issues in India and in fact he was far more informed than I was!

When I came back to Singapore, first thing I did was jump in a cab to get home and enroute I asked the taxi driver, what's new in Singapore. First thing he said to me was citibank shares dropped by more points today and is only worth XXX amount. It used to cost $60 plus a share and now it's only 50 cents or something (I can't remember).

But this is the ethos of Singapore. This is what the city is obsessed about. The stock market, and the occasional murder or petty crime.

Chatting with another friend I realised another irony of life. In India, when I cannot finish my food at a restaurant, I pack it and give it to the kids on the street just outside the restaurant, begging for money. But back here, if I can't finish my food I let the waiter clear it, and it goes into the dump. I'm sure there are starving people in this country. But they're hidden from society, like litter is being put away from the street.

I'm not saying whether this is good or bad, but I guess that's one of the reasons why I like it in India more than here. There, poverty is not hidden and there're plenty of opportunities for people to ventilate their compassion. As much as it bothers me that such poverty should exist right next to such opulence, it is so easy for me to show generosity and compassion to someone less fortunate. But here, charity is monetized and the act of charity is far too tiresome to do beyond signing a cheque.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Singaporean, I have become

Today I as I sat on the bus leaving the office at 945pm, I noticed something.

I had that same blank look of nothingness as the rest of the people on the bus.

I had a sudden flash back - 7 months ago I had just returned from India after working for an NGO there, and I was on a train, looking at the dozens of Singaporeans with their blank faces, empty stares and morose expressions. I thought to myself, "how pitiful. I hope I never become one of them".

How pitiful indeed. When one's life is consumed by one's occupation. We were meant only to work in order to live. But here people live to work. Sadly for many, to work is to live.

It becomes even sadder when one's profession is to mess around with words. There's always a way to twist a person's words without changing the facts, and worse, twist the meaning without changing his words.

You do that often enough and you wake up one day and not know when you're telling yourself the truth and when you're not.

The mind is a devious thing and its words are slippery as silk. And my job is to milk it, to the very last drop.

Welcome to the garden of Eden...after the fall of man.