Friday, August 22, 2014

An Ecclesiastes Frame Of Mind

Coming from an Economics background (theoretical) into financial planning services (dealing with actual people's lives), I find myself getting more and more disenchanted with everything these days. In Singapore, the hot topic is our failing government and a consequent systematic breakdown of everything possible. I see this daily when I talk to people about their future goals. It saddens me that it was still possible to buy a car and a house without being saddled with huge debt during my parents' generation. Yet, what my generation is now facing seems really hopeless. Many of us are now university graduates, unlike our parents. However, it is so difficult for the average graduate today to find good secure positions paying decent salaries. Even after working for five years, the prospects of a promotion remain dim for many. Few of us dare to even dream about owning a car in the next few years, let alone a house. Young people find the idea of marriage daunting because of soaring costs- from the wedding, to buying a house, to raising a child.

I can't help but think that life was much simpler back then during my parents' time. You could still get a decent paying job without graduating from university because the costs of living were low. Singapore's population was under 3 million at that time and there were ample public spaces for recreation and other relaxing activities. It wasn't a perfect time, but it was definitely simpler.

I was just scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, looking through the usual ALS ice bucket challenge videos (I scroll through them quickly because there are so many and they are all the same), the angry posts (from the politically charged), the usual philosophical posts (from the spiritual)...

But there were certain posts that stood out to me. They come from those who are deeply entrenched in academia. Pretty much, the posts go along the lines of "this and this is actually happening because of so and so. You all just haven't figured it out because you studied this subject much less than I have. Stop complaining about your life you less-educated people and start thinking about brilliant ideas on how to solve problems. Start by contributing ideas to my paper because my paper will save the world from people like you who can't write coherently".

I'm sure my sarcasm can tell you loads about how I feel concerning such posts. 

I can't begin to tell you how tired I feel by the end of the scrolling, because I used up so much energy just trying to keep myself from starting a comment war.

What is it about academia that makes one so snobbish?

Haven't they ever considered that what they learnt is school could be all wrong? That their wisdom is misguided and their theories are simply, just, theories? And have they ever thought that there are people who may not have studied this subject, but have much more accurate and viable thoughts about it than they do, simply because of their own experiences?

The reason for my annoyance comes partly from such incidences:

- Academic Person will say something sweeping about how his studies have proven this theory right. Non-Academic Person who actually grew up or was in that experience says the theory is absolutely wrong. Academic Person will indirectly look down on Non-Academic Person's own theory because of either their poor command of language, or lack of visible achievements. -

You know what, we like to say that money isn't everything these days. Well, I'd like to posit that neither is education. For all the added knowledge that we have today, I don't really see how the average life has been improved. Sure, we have clean drinking water as compared to other "not-so-educated nations". But our morals as a society stink. We may have less infants dying and better healthcare, but more people trying to commit suicide here than many other "less-well-to-do" places.

Essentially, what did the betterment of our generation's educational standard really lead to? Is it a better life? Is it more happiness? Can this be measured? Does it really matter in the end?

At the end of the day, whether we are educated people or not, our end is still the grave. There is no amount of knowledge or wisdom that can keep us from dying. Not the rich nor the poor, the strong nor the weak can escape from this fate. So why are the "educated" looking down on those who are "not"?

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."

I'd say this is true... Just look at the people around us in society.