Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Death of the Family

Westernisation corrupting Eastern values, or the influence of badly-needed new perspective? However you look at it, the rate of divorce in Sri Lanka is increasing.

Sri Lanka is ranked along with India as having one of the lowest divorce rates in the world - coincidentally, it also has the highest rate of female suicide - but I leave decisions on whether to correlate those bits of information to you.

Acceptance of divorce in Sri Lanka has always been an issue, with divorcees suffering from stigma and in many cases ostracism, whether or not they initiated the divorce. Fair or not, it is often the woman who bears the brunt of society's disapproval as perhaps it is felt that the onus is on her to make the marriage work. Sri Lankans, in general, are incredibly family-oriented. If you've had old aunts - I should say 'aunties', because friends of the family fall into this group too - cluck sadly over how you're too thin, too fat, too fair, too dark, not married yet, don't yet have children, etc. then you've been on the receiving end of IEFS or Interfering Extended Family Syndrome. The fact that most Sri Lankan can attest to having experienced IEFS speaks for itself. While this can be great in terms of support when you need it, it is usually from these quarters that the snide comments on divorce come as well. This considered, maybe it's a good thing that more open-minded views are beginning to prevail.

Since a marriage is essentially a commitment between the two people concerned, it seems just that the decision to dissolve it should be between them and not be judged by others. That said, marriage is still seen as a lifetime commitment, and one that shouldn't be broken lightly. Considering 'for better and for worse', it's difficult to decide at what point is the decision to walk away should be made and there have been many marriages that got through crises stronger for having been tested.

On the other hand, how right is it to condemn people to an unhappy marriage, one in which neither can live up to their potential or have a chance for happiness? If the individuals involved are unhappy, it stands to reason that forcing them together is unlikely to contribute to the collective good.

So does the increasing acceptance of (or resignation to) divorce mean the devaluation of the family unit or is it merely the evolution into a new form, where individual best interests are valued more than they were previously?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sims and I

Talk abounds on how games are making it that much more difficult for kids today to face the reality of life. I happen to agree. Now before you get all 'het up' as my mom would say, and start waving placards outside my door for not being forward-thinking and dragging us all back into the last millennium, stop. And think a minute.

Have you never wished that life came with an 'undo' button? Or that you could just save your progress and get back to it when you feel more like facing the world? Wouldn't it be nice if the opponents you have in real life could be regulated and made 'Easy' on a bad day and 'Hard' when you feel like a challenge? what if all the mistakes you make could be wiped away just by restarting the level you're at?

When I played The Sims (yes, sadly, this is the only game I've actually played in a while, don't judge me.), I would let my character laze around and have fun and invite people over until s/he had just enough money to survive a day and then look for a job. I know it defeats the purpose of the game, but that's my ideal lifestyle - working just enough so I can live the way I want. Now there are others I know, who drive their characters through all the levels of play, making them advance in their careers, perfect their skills, and cultivate just the right kind of friends.

In our everyday lives, how often do we get to choose? Who we meet is often decided purely by chance. Coincidence could rule out a friend whose personality type is perfectly complementary to ours. Jobs are hard to come by, and you can't get them purely by clicking on a button that says 'Apply'. Promotions too, are dependent on more than just being in a good mood everyday and having the required skills.

I think all that feeds into the "I want it now!" culture that's been spreading for a while. I'm not saying that knowing what you want is a bad thing, just that right now, we don't have the resources to provide everyone in the world anything they want at the touch of button. Maybe someday. But would that really be a good thing? People keep saying that you don't value what you haven't worked for. Does this mean that at some point in the future, humans will go extinct out of sheer boredom from having created and having to live in their utopia?

It's true that games have always been a part of the human need to de-stress, but lately they seem to have a more addictive escapist component to them that ensnares the susceptible.

Vrai ou faux?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Of Beginnings And Mission Statements

This being my very first post, I dare not expect too much of it. I hope, of course, that it'll be special - a gem amongst first posts. But I have the feeling that asking that of it would just stifle it under the weight of such expectations.

The idea for this blog is to showcase my writing, and for it to be a portfolio of sorts. So this blog's mission statement, if it had one in the fashionable form, would read something like:

"To provide an {superlative of adjective} medium in which to {superlative of adverb} showcase examples of {superlative of adjective} talent, having attracted x amount of {superlative of adjective} attention in n years."

Pardon me if it seems like this mission statement idea doesn't have complete buy-in from me. I actually do think it has its place in corporate life, all I object to is the air of expectation surrounding the mission statement, as though employees of a company, upon reading it will be struck with awe at what a grand enterprise they are part of. Most of the time, if read at all, the only effect the superlative-drenched and incredibly buzz-wordy line has on people apart from the zealous new recruit (see below) is rather uninspiring.

To be fair, there are ones I like. Simple statements that tell people what they are part of without making it sound like a major production. Google's: "To facilitate access to information for the entire world." and Virgin Atlantic's: "To grow a profitable airline which people love to fly and where people love to work." get my vote.

So, no, I'm not saying do away with the mission statement. But when you're drafting one, stop trying to include everything they ever mentioned in that business course. Heck, dump the theory entirely while you're at it.

Share your dream, the rest will follow.