Thoughts on Pulau Ubin, Singapore

I came across the above video recently in my Facebook newsfeed. Thoughts went through my mind, and I have long wanted to address the issue of the natural beauty of Pulau Ubin being spoilt by human intervention. Finally, I decided to post my comment in response to the video, as follows:

“Thank you for the video. Pulau Ubin is what Singapore mainland used to be more than a century ago, mainly forested with some self-sufficient farms, few buildings and roads. Many people today are calling for the rustic, natural environment of Ubin to be preserved because capitalism, materialism and consumerism have caused the mainland to lose its soul and character and become disconnected with Nature in the name of material progress.

IMG_0331Littering and improper waste disposal are still a perennial problem, especially along the southern and eastern coasts of Pulau Ubin, where rubbish entangled among the mangrove roots and/or washed ashore the sandy beaches is both an eyesore and a grim reminder of the far-reaching effects of a consumerist and materialistic culture in our urbanised society.

As long as we aren’t dealing with the root of this problem, anything we do to help protect and preserve Ubin will only be like applying band-aid to a deep wound, which may provide temporary relief at best. Unless we drastically change our mindset and ditch the capitalistic, monetary system that breeds inequality and results in unsustainable growth and environmental degradation, Ubin will die a slow death in following the footsteps of the mainland.

History has proven time and again that once prosperous cities such as Rome and Babylon would suffer decline and become no more than relics, and Singapore is no different if we don’t embrace a resource-based system and egalitarianism, as proposed by the Venus Project. It remains to be seen how each of us chooses to do our part for the environment as global citizens and children of the Earth, for every one of us matters and we are all one and interconnected.”

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“We are the zombies”

I have checked out this reflective post by George Elerick, in which he wrote at the end, maybe movies are “more like mirrors, reflect back to us what we have forgotten we already know about ourselves”, as movies can serve as a critique of the society in terms of how we operate under a particular culture or system on a daily basis, and yet largely remain unaware in the drudgery of life that revolves around consumerism and entertainment in a capitalistic, competitive world. Too often, we humans are reduced to no more than automations in an inhuman and inhumane system to function in the machinery of economics, to keep the system going, and so on. Education itself can easily become just another propagandistic tool to impose a one-track view of “success” on the younger generations just to fit into the molds of rank-and-file economic systems that tend to favour the privileged and the powerful. The imagery of zombies used in the post is somewhat apt as it describes people who are living outside yet are dead inside, which can describe anyone who happens to be caught up with consumerism, workaholism and so on, to the extent of losing touch with our own soul as well as others as well. It is therefore vital for everyone to remember to slow down and reflect on the really important things in life, such as seeing and relating to people as people instead of objects, rediscovering our true humanity (that is free from the dictates of the superego or social ethics) and our connection to the Earth, as mentioned in the upcoming book “Love letter to the earth” by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Creation groans for the manifestation of the sons of God

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

This video shows that some birds die from eating our trash that washes up on their island. It is subtle violence.

The video reveals the state of our world in terms of environmental degradation, consumerist culture, improper waste disposal at the expense of the well-being of wildlife. It shows the interconnectedness of all things – that what we do affects other beings, whether near or far, which will in turn affect us in some ways. Indeed, this harmful effect on the albatrosses on Midway Islands in Pacific Ocean is subtle violence. I have checked out the filmmaker’s interview about his movie and he shared similar thoughts about it, saying:

“First-world culture has lost its connection with a deeply felt reverence for the miracle of our life, and for our sacred place in the great mystery. Being on Pihemanu (the Hawaiian name for Midway) is like standing on a razor’s edge between darkness and light, paradise and hell, the past and the future; it is a focused microcosm of our world, where horror meets innocence, grief meets joy, birth meets death, all wrapped in an envelope of violent history and stunning natural beauty that overwhelms the senses and transforms the mind.”

– Chris Jordan (From “A love story on midway island“)