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Q1: “Life is many shades of grey.” Comment.
(Essay on Personal Views)
In the colour spectrum, primary colours are those which are elementary and cannot be created from other colours. Exceptions to this rule, however, are the colours black and white. Mix these two together and the result is grey. Perhaps life, too, is like this colour, an offspring of a mixture of distinct elements which defy conventional compartmentalisation. Indeed, much of life is an arena of grey area, lacking definite boundaries, making it ambiguous. However, it is not merely a slate of homogeneous grey, it is many shades of grey. Life is thus multi-layered, dimensional ambivalence, existing in varying degrees. It is this multiplicity which injects complexity into life.
Why is life grey? Perhaps it (greyness) is an inherent quality in humans. After all, this colour image is mirrored in grey matter, which forms the surface layers of the brain. Hence, grey matter contributes to the functioning of the mind, facility of thought and, primarily, life, since it is gauged by the functioning of the brain. Since this essential material in our brains is termed as “grey” matter, venturing to propose that ambiguity is intrinsic in our natures, at least by associations of colour, is not that off-tangent after all. On a more serious note, it is mainly social differences which create the diversity. Variations in background and social conditioning lead to differences in individual perceptions. Different life experiences also result in diversification of the complex emotional make-up humans, affecting their personal interpretation of events. For all these reasons and more, life attains its greyness.
Ambiguity has a dominant role in the quantitative aspects of human existence. It affects both the macro and micro areas of life. A point of note is that most systems to be mentioned do not embrace the multiplicity of life. In fact, they seek to obliterate it by enforcing rigid codes of dogma, not to suppress, but to allow for fair examination of factors. However, more often than not, conflicts of interest arise because the academic models do not reflect reality. fully. Paradoxically, this rigidity sometimes harms those the systems seek to protect, becoming their greatest fallacy.
For instance, the rule of law aims to install a fixture of rules which demands complete compliance. It is entrenched in steel and any deviation from it will result in punishments. This is society’s method of providing guide-lines for living, by drawing up parameters in which a “lawful life revolves. In this social contract, morals and ethics are enshrined, seeking to establish rights for all. Ideally, none is discriminated against, for it is said that in the eyes the law, all are equal. Noble aspirations indeed, but do they materialize? A glance at reality will reflect otherwise. While laws are rigid, sentences are not. Laws have been weaved around to accommodate individual interests, such as the infamous O.J Simpson case which saw him being spared the death penalty, to be charged under a considerably lighter sentence, through masterful persuasion by his lawyer.
Dissent is also prevalent in rape cases where non consensual sexual intercourse is open to interpretation. A furore arose in the United States recently over the relevance of a rape charge with regard to the time which elapses after the female has withdrawn consent and the male eventually ceasing intercourse. Offences by minors are also subjected to less severe punishments as opposed to adult offenders. This was particularly evident in the case last year where a Singaporean man paid a teenage boy to murder his ex-wife to reap financial returns from the sale of their flat, as well as to claim custody of their daughter. For planned murder, the youth received indefinite life imprisonment under the President’s grace, while the grown man received the death sentence. Therefore, within the law exists many grey areas which allow for subjectivity.
Similarly, there is no definite stance in the medical field. Though there are established rules in medicine, these do not extend to every individual. This is because the body is fundamentally a living mechanism and given the different genetic make-up and body conditions of every individual, a set of medical symptoms cannot encompass everyone. Besides the natural dynamism of the body which the experiences denies a standard diagnosis for all, and interpretations of doctors also differ. The common call for a patient to seek a second a second diagnosis during illness reflects this. Particularly poignant is that variations in human behaviour do occur, as in the field of psychiatry, where it is occur particularly crucial that psychiatrists regard each patient as a unique individual and handle his accordingly. A failure to do so can result in misdiagnosis and can provide further detriment to a his case patient’s mental health, intensifying his personal. torment. While patterns are eventually established given time, the details do not necessarily concur, demonstrating once again, the multiplicity of life and its greyness.
Moving up the social hierarchy to government bodies does not eliminate the marks of ambiguity. In fact, its presence is even more pronounced. This is primarily due to governmental policies originating from models which are either unrealistic or inaccurate in predicting society’s corresponding behaviour. Citing Japan as an example, the Japanese government has been trying, with negligible success, to pull the country out of recession since their economic bubble burst in the early 1990s. Implementing policies driven by sound economic rationale, such as lower interest rates to make borrowing cheaper, so as to encourage household expenditure and investment, would have, under normal circumstances, boosted the economy. But in Japan, where interest rates are presently at zero per cent, the situation has, for the past ten years or so, remained stagnant. Why? The root of the problem lies in the pertinent need to reform existing structures, such as the tightly-controlled banking system, of which much of its money supply is provided through savings of the people who incidentally are not saving presently. The people’s conscious decision not to save or consume can be alluded to their general pessimism towards the economy, fearing that their savings would be eroded by deflation. This is ambivalence at work. While estimates and predictions can be made about people’s behaviour, reality sometimes fails to reflect the ideal situation to the exasperation of policy makers. Alas, the power of mass influence and the greyness of life.
The human condition seeks to find absolutes in life. Through exploration and venture, they attempt to unearth the unknown, to remove the shrouds from the vague, Perhaps it is this incessant delving for certainty that paradoxically heightens the greyness in our lives, for it nullifies the flexibility and diversity which multi-shaded greyness can introduce, imposing artificial confines, blinding one to the vibrancy of living. At best, this creates regularity, but at worst, it inhibits and suppresses, eventually leading to resistance (for history has shown that humans are resentful towards extreme suppression). Greyness will then assume a new dimension, connotating bleakness and sobriety. Hence, this question inevitably arises: Are the many shades of grey in life good or bad?
Now, that is another grey area.
Q2: Fight or flight. Discuss the merits of both.
The human body has been hardwired to respond to crisis situations with one of two in-built, adrenaline fuelled reactions – fight or flight. Since prehistoric times, man has always responded to danger (to his life) in such a way, but increasingly nowadays, it has become necessary to equate these reactions to situations other than those that threaten man with physical harm.
The most common application of this fight-or-flight mechanism is during war. Some people would prefer to fight the enemy head-on, especially if the enemy has invaded their own homeland or country. During World War II, millions of Russian men (and women) sacrificed their lives in the “Great Patriotic War” against the invading German armies. However, other people might prefer to use the “flight” option. Their most frequent reason is that by fleeing today, they might be able to continue fighting tomorrow. This reasoning is perfectly logical, especially when the enemy by-far outnumbers, outguns, outmanoeuvres them. Resistance and continued fighting in the face of such overwhelming odds would be futile and akin to suicide, thus wasting any future opportunity to battle the invaders. A most interesting development in modem-day warfare is the use of fight and flight. tactics, especially in guerilla warfare. The Tamil Tigers separatist movement in Sri Lanka has been employing this tactic since the movement’s inception in 1989. Thus, in warfare, “fight” is good when the odds are with you to defeat the enemy who has infringed upon the sovereignty of your nation, while “flight is sometimes necessary when fighting is futile and not aiding in driving out the invader. The guerilla warfare style of fight and flight, is, I think, one of the new, practical alternatives to the conventional approach of flight or fight in warfare.
Increasingly this fight-or-flight approach is being applied to pressing social issues, like discrimination. In apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela chose the “fight” option and ultimately won the fight against discrimination of his fellow countrymen by the “white” South African government. During the time of the British Raj in India, Mohandas Gandhi also chose to fight for the freedom to of his countrymen and country from the imperialist clutches of Britain’s colonial office. However, Gandhi’s fighting was different from the typically bloody civil war that decolonisation; Gandhi “fought using non-violence and pacifism, a paradoxical approach that eventually result in India gaining her independence. In the fight against discrimination of women, Singapore instated the Women’s Charter as the prime weapon of choice against gender discrimination, primarily of women whether in the workplace, or a at home. In the quest to establish equity between the rich and poor in society, countries the world over have chosen to by levying higher income taxes on the rich and the able-to-afford and incorporating social welfare schemes to help the poor distance themselves from the vicious cycle of poverty. In the social arena, fighting is definitely more applaudable than flighty. fight skirting of the issues, as fighting against social dilemmas and fighting for society’s benefit and welfare are honourable and correct morally, while. ignoring these issues and hoping that they will just go away on their own does nothing to improve the standard of living and welfare of society.
Fight or flight can even be applied to the technological and medical/scientific realm. Modern science and technological advancements have enabled such possibilities as cloning, stem cell research and genetic engineering/modification to emerge, and caused the surfacing of a maelstrom of ethical, moral debates about playing God. The Bush Administration has chosen to fight against these scientific advances by banning them from all government funding outright. However this form of fighting is very extreme, in that research into curing all sorts of genetic diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, may suffer due to a lack of funds. A more reasonable “fight” response would be Singapore’s response after consulting medical professionals, geneticists, scientists, religious leaders and other relevant authorities that research would not be banned but would be allowed under strict guidelines and codes of conduct so as not to allow research for nefarious, personal reasons. In the arena of nuclear weaponry, a fight response was the 1972 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which both aim to contain the threat of a nuclear holocaust and to prevent the misuse of nuclear technology by states with a personal agenda. Thus in the technological and scientific region, fighting against the development and spread of the misuse of technology and science would definitely be a much better choice than “flight” and ignoring the issue.
In the political arena, corruption is a major issue that needs to be tackled with by fight not flight. China has recently taken a very tough stance against corrupt officials by executing them. While the execution of corrupt officials and businessmen should not be encouraged, keeping mum about the existence of corruption worsens the situation by encouraging even more bureaucratic red-tape and corruption among civil servants and businessmen of all ranks;. Investment may be discouraged and people may see lining officials’ pockets with bribes and gifts as the only recourse to get any work done. Thus in the political arena, fight is the only sensible and logical option to exercise, as flight does not work in curbing corruption but allows it to proliferate.
Therefore, while fight or flight (or a combination of both as in guerilla warfare) may both work in a war like situation, fight is indeed more essential and critical in today’s complex world of many social, scientific, ethical, moral and political issues and dilemmas, which the flight way of dealing with issues will not only not alleviate the problem, but may even exacerbate the situation to an even greater and more complicated extent.
Q3: Would you rather be free or safe?
Freedom and safety are two unfortunately antagonistic ideals. The exercising or imposition of one inevitably leads to the diminishing of the other. The relationship between liberty and security is thus an interesting one. While seekers of freedom often are willing to entirely forego safety and conservatives. Often sacrifice is a great deal of freedom for security, it is important to realize that one ideal is null and void if the other is totally absent.
Freedom is redundant or even impossible if it means having to face physical danger perpetually. Similarly, safety is useless if one does not have the freedom to do anything with one’s very secure life. My personal belief is that freedom and safety are both important, but I value freedom more than safety to a small extent. Freedom and safety exist in many different fields. In the following paragraphs, I shall discuss their importance in the physical, mental and financial contexts.
Freedom from physical restriction matters slightly more than physical safety, as it ultimately decides one’s quality of life. The ability to go about one’s daily activities unhampered and undisturbed allows one to pursue one’s desires and be free from interruptions which may disrupt one’s daily routine, and in the end one’s life. Freedom ultimately allows truly live properly. Because of this, many one to people around the world value freedom above security. In America, for example, even after the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans were only willing to step up security to a limited extent. Stopping at the airport for five minutes to have one’s luggage checked is live generally accepted, but the government’s plan to get citizens to report the activities of their neighbors is harshly opposed. Of course, physical safety is also essential to living a proper life. People in Israel, for example, are unable to enjoy their lives for fear of terrorist bombings by Palestinian terrorists. constant go about one’s life constantly One simply cannot go worrying about whether one’s next moment will be safe. However, while both freedom and security are important, freedom matters a little more to me. This is because freedom, and not safety, at the end of the day, allows you to live meaningfully. It is better to live meaningfully. It is better to live the way one wants to and face danger than to hide from danger and never truly live. Hence in my opinion, freedom from physical constraints is slightly more important than physical safety.
It is essential for one to be able to freely express one’s ideas in order to have an enriching life. One of the marks of a modern civilized society is the simultaneous flowing of different and opposing ideologies. Such ability to express ideas ultimately leads to society, and thus the individual, becoming more mature, civilized and even more prone to progress of all kinds. This is evident from the fact that most of the developed nations around the world uphold free speech to a significant extent, whereas noxious regimes such as the Taliban who squash dissent are often the rulers of poor countries which as a result never progress. It is true, however, that the traffic of ideas must be monitored. Views harmful and damaging to society such as Islamic extremism, or any other form of extremism for that matter, must be treated with caution and perhaps selectively censored. At the end of the day, the freedom to express ideas is still more important as social development, and thus that of the individual, simply cannot be achieved without a certain risk of conflict. Freedom of ideas thus matters more to me than the safety from them.
Financial freedom matters slightly more than financial safety. Financial freedom on the microscopic level is the ability to spend freely, whereas financial safety would mean saving one’s money and spending as little as possible. While I do not refer to senseless extravagance, I believe that one’s resources are better spent on improving one’s well-being rather than being hoarded carefully for a rainy day. Financial safety is moreover never absolute. I would thus rather get my money’s worth while I still have enough of it. It is, however, necessary to save enough so that one has a significant degree of financial stability. Once this is done, however, I believe that it is better to spend freely rather than continuing to put away money into the bank. Money is, at the end of the day, pointless if it is not used to enhance one’s material enjoyment. I thus lean more towards being financially free than financially safe. In conclusion, freedom and safety are both essential. elements of a meaningful existence. However, freedom matters more to a slight extent for the reasons given throughout this passage. It is interesting to realize that security is itself a type of freedom, the freedom from threat. The truth in that freedom and security tend to exclude each other is in fact a consequence of the fact that absolute freedom is an impossible ideal.
Q4: “Give me the country life, any time.” Discuss.
Having read this question, two distinct experiences come to my mind. The first was a farmstay in Scotland and the second was a kelong (fisherman’s hut in the ocean, built on stilts) holiday in Malaysia. I enjoyed both experiences immensely and they embody for me, the feeling of country life – life outside the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s metropolis.
Yet, I would not totally agree with the statement, “Give me the country life, any time”.
I cannot see myself working in the country, full-time. I want to set up my own advertising firm, and being realistic, the need for success and money outweighs my de sire for the total peace and serenity of country living. Besides, no advertising firm can survive in the country where there is no demand for it. Without technology and a good infrastructure, my firm would be anything but a success. My ambition, therefore, makes me realize that even though I enjoy country living, it is virtually impossible to do both at the same time. And, as I am determined to fulfil my ambition, country living will be sacrificed, any time, for success,
It is in this drive for success, achievement and power that city dwellers caught up on the web of competition and fast-paced living, cry out for country life. The country life, free of worry, is a relaxed environment for them. Vacations in the country are soothing because the environment sings of care-free walks into the sunset, fishing by the sea and counting stars at night. The perception of country living that many of us have is highly romanticised. There are still hardships and stress to be considered in a county life.
During the Australian farmstay, I found out that, very often, farmers get up and are “out and ready” before five in the morning. Heavy labour mending fences, inspecting livestock takes up the bulk of their activity. They live in fear that rampant disease or prolonged drought may destroy their crops and cattle. The stress that people in the city try to get away from is equally present in the country. By living the country life many of us would still have to endure hardships but of a different kind.
My opinion is that the country life is good only for vacations, brief periods of time when we can believe that there are places where we can be free. The actual “living” of the country life is hard physical work and it is, to me, worse than the stress of the city.
But unlike the city life, country living has more benefits. It is free from pollution and the use of body and mind to earn a living is highly rewarding. The closeness to nature, the union of man and earth, is evident in country living, in the farmers and the fishermen whom I visited. Even though their lives are difficult and sometimes tedious, they were gentle, polite and kind. A country life style, I have observed, encourages such an even temperament, quite unlike those of many of the taxi-snatching. hostile and rude city-dwellers.
The country life is beneficial on these terms. The beauty and the wonder of nature are so breath-taking and wondrous that the hardships of country living seem worth while.
However, living in the country means being far away from one’s neighbours and hospitals. In cases of emergency, for example, a fire, the nearest fire station is miles away. There are dangers of living in the country and survival in the country requires the cooperation of every member in the community. Perhaps this is a disadvantage, but I choose not to see it as such. It is in situations like this that the community is brought closer together. In the superficial city, neighbours hardly see or know each other.
There is also a lack of educational services, for example schools, in the country. This is indeed a disadvantage, for who can doubt the power of education in to day’s society? Bringing up my children in the country would leave them at a disadvantage educationally to children from the city.
Country life and city life are the extreme examples of how people live. By comparing and contrasting the ad vantages and disadvantages of living in the country and the city, I can safely conclude that I would rather live in the city, not just for the convenience of running water and electricity but also because I cannot cope with the physical nature of country living. Nevertheless, country life would still play an important role in my life. The inspiration that comes from nature and from vacationing in a free and relaxed environment will play a part in my artwork and provide ideas for my agency, as creativity often finds its roots in freedom.
The statement, “Give me the country life, any time” I will save for my retirement.
Q5: What do you consider to be a meaningful life?
We have all heard many television advertisements using catchy phrases like: “Work hard, play hard”, “live life to the fullest.” They are all talking about the way we should live our lives so that they are. I think a meaningful life includes playing an active role, having goals and achieving them, and enjoying being alive. Eloquent people say that there is a difference between existing and living; that if you just exist and do not do any thing meaningful, you are better off dead. I agree.
Everyone should have a goal in life (that is, everyone who wants to have a meaningful life. And I think most people do). This purpose in life may not be as great as wanting to lift a nation out of its ruins, but any purpose will suffice as long as it is for the good of the world. Goals motivate people, giving them things to do with their time. A good part of our time is spent in the pursuit of our goals and our dreams, so it is very important that our goals are meaningful. For example, a gardener may want to grow beautiful plants so that people can enjoy their beauty. A teacher may devote her life to her pupils, helping them to fulfil their potential so that they can live meaningful lives. Not having a goal in life is extremely wasteful, not only for oneself but also for the nation, and for the person’s parents who spend their lives toiling to provide her with her food, clothes and a shelter over her head. All this effort is in vain if a person has no goals.
It is not necessary for a person to be a great leader to have a meaningful life. It is true that the great leaders get more glamour and prestige, but a person should know her own worth and be satisfied that she has done her job, knowing she has done her best. A country needs every one of its citizens to play her part, so it is important that everybody has a niche in society for their lives to be meaningful.
Accomplishments are important for a meaningful life. Most people reckon that having earned a lot of money is an accomplishment. Well, there are other ways a person can be accomplished, like an athlete clinching the gold medal in the Olympics. Certainly, accomplishments are like trophies for some people and give them a sense of achievement.
Enjoyment is highly rated on my checklist for the ingredients of a meaningful life. It would be meaningless and very stupid, to have worked so hard and not be able to reap the fruits of one’s labour. I think people are obliged to pamper themselves once in a while. This indulgence may come in the form of a feast, a luxury cruise or on a smaller scale, a strawberry sundae. But one should be careful not to over-indulge as it may not only impede one’s progress in life, it may also be extremely unhealthy if the enjoyment comes in the form of tons of food every other day.
Health is important for a meaningful life. A person should take time out from work regularly (at least three times a week) to exercise. She should also maintain a healthy diet and abstain from illicit drugs, tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol. A person should be able to come out into the sun and breath the fresh air.
A poor environment should not constitute sufficient excuse for being idle. Complaining and whining are definite signs of one’s complacency. A person born in difficult conditions should be strong enough to overcome the obstructions to a meaningful life. She should not grovel in the mud.
I have only lived sixteen and a half years, so I can not be called a leading authority in the field of meaningful lives. What I have written are only the ideas I have from my experiences. I do not think that someone living her days watching television and eating fast food would be very happy. Neither do I think that a person reserving all her time for the pursuit of economic success would be happy. So, just what is a meaningful life? I think the most important quality in a meaningful life is happiness.
Q6: It is foolish to be a humble person. Comment.
Is modesty a virtue? Certainly, the polished, cultured or poised would answer yes. However, with rising living standards and generally more prosperous societies worldwide overconfidence and arrogance are starting to take modesty’s place. Competitive societies or nations especially are faced with this problem. In Singapore, for ex ample, the government noticed a trend of unpleasant arrogance and selfishness emerging and launched a courtesy campaign to salvage the situation. I believe that it is definitely not foolish to be humble.
Being humble means that one would not become complacent. Complacency is that fatal overconfidence that can sometimes lead to a drastic failure. Being too proud and arrogant will cause success and prosperity to bloat one’s head. Complacency hence results. This is probably one major reason why competitive societies can become lax and hence lose their standing. Being humble on the ether hand means that one would not become complacent. This is because humble people would understand that success the first time does not guarantee a life-time success. They would continue to work and strive meticulously. Hence a humble society pushes forward slowly but steadily. This is one reason why being humble is not foolish.
There is, however, a drawback. Being too humble can lead to a lack of adventure or creativity in a society. Being too humble can create an atmosphere of “playing safe” or over-cautiousness.. This can deter any feeling for daring or adventure. Hence there is no drive, ambition or courage to explore and innovate. However, on the whole, being humble is definitely not foolish.
Being humble is not foolish as it allows room for improvement. Modesty is based on the understanding that there is much more in the world to learn, achieve and discover. It signifies an understanding that one is not perfect but open to improvement. This down-to-earth mentality means that a humble person would strive to better himself constantly. A proud or arrogant person thinks of himself as perfect or flawless. He would not strive to better himself. He would not admit to his faults and would not try to correct them. In the end, he lags behind. Hence being humble is not foolish as it constantly pushes one to greater heights as he improves himself.
The drawback, however, is that being too humble might induce passive acceptance or an inferiority com plex in a person. The person who is too humble feels small and incapable. He may doubt his own capabilities or talents. Thus he is too afraid to try anything. However, the fact remains that being humble is not foolish so long as one is not over-humble.
Being humble is a sign of quiet intrinsic confidence. When a person blows his own trumpet, it is an indication of his insecurity which compels him to try and boost his own reputation. A humble person knows his own worth and capacity. He does not need to brag or boast to tell others about himself. This is because he is confident of himself. The fact is that he does not need to exhibit this confidence shows his maturity. Hence, being humble is not foolish as it clearly indicates that one is mature and confident.
Being humble can foster better relationships with others. Any person, in general, would not like to have the presence of a person who loves to brag. A braggart casts himself in bad light by boasting. People get put off by braggarts as they start noticing their immaturity. An arrogant person might also irritate and offend other people. A humble person, on the other hand, is respectful of others as he does not think too highly of himself. He is cooperative and down-to-earth. Hence, he more easy-going and is likely to be a more popular and well-liked person. Hence it is certainly not foolish to be humble.
However, over-modesty can also hinder good relation ships. Many people are irritated by the fact that an over humble person often never admits to his good points or achievements. They may perceive the over-humble personality to be hypocritical or over-courteous. However, it remains clear that being humble to a certain extent can be a virtue as long as it does not go overboard.
There is strong evidence that being humble is not a foolish thing. It can make one strive to improve oneself and hence aim for excellence or avoid becoming complacent and hence work steadily. It is also a sign of maturity, practicality and confidence. It also keeps one on good terms with everyone. Basically, modesty is a drawback only when it is in excess or when it goes beyond a certain stage. Only a surplus of modesty can lead to passiveness. lacklustre performance in fields of creativity, innovation. adventure or a repulsive show of hypocrisy. Hence, it goes without saying that the virtues of being humble override the drawbacks. Hence, it is only foolish to say that being humble is foolish.
Q7: “No man is an island.” Discuss how people depend on one another.
For as long as history is recorded, and perhaps even longer than that, “no man is an island”. That is to say, Man has always lived in groups. As far as I know, even Neanderthal men lived in groups. Judging by the genocide, homicide, infanticide and other such sins commit ted by one person against another, we can hardly say that Man live in groups because of their love for one another. The other logical explanation is, therefore, the fact that people depend on one another for survival.
Men live together for protection. In prehistory, when mammoths, sabre-toothed tigers and other such monsters roamed the earth, it was only logical that the puny homo sapiens lived collectively, for protection. Besides, hunting in groups was much easier, too. Even as we progressed and left the primitive life behind, we still depend on one another for survival and support, but now, the reasons for us living in groups have become more complicated. In deed, men depend on one another for many things..
People need one another for psychological support. The fact that we live in families seems to serve as a proof. Within a family, there is often love and concern, so vital for people especially children. A simple proof is that teen agers from disunited families, where psychological sup port is minimal, tend to be more suicidal and also have a tendency to delinquency. Another good example is that during a person’s teenage years, when he often feels in secure about himself, he tends to join cliques for support and security. Sometimes, he even chooses to abandon his individuality by dressing in the same way. People probably prescribe to the belief that “Unity is strength”. Of course, sometimes, there are people who do not seem to want this kind of support and instead choose to live as hermits, or simply, alone. However, these cases are in the minority. The majority of the people do, in fact, seek to live in groups.
In creativity, people, too, often depend on one a for inspiration, encouragement and knowledge. Some people have argued that one must be original and therefore, another should not depend on others for ideas. However, the fact is that many great creators of music and arts had in fact depended on some other great person for help. For example, early Beethoven works have heavy Haydn influence and Shumann was Brahms’ important source of inspiration.
Economically, “no man is an island”, too. People are interdependent. Maybe it is possible for one to live happily alone, doing all the work that is needed to be done, but for progress and a better life, specialisation and division of labour is essential. It is far easier for Man to pro duce more by separating and specialising the tasks. This raises productivity and therefore, can help improve one’s life. In the manufacturing plants, this is evident. There are long assembly lines which oblige each worker to specialise in his own area and hence, mass producing goods becomes possible. Therefore, economically, man cannot live alone.
“No man is an island”, and in this age of technology, “no country is an island”, too. Figuratively speaking, that is, countries now no longer seek to isolate themselves, as the folly of doing that is only too clearly shown by Japan and China. Both countries had sought to close their doors to outside influence, and as a result, found themselves seriously lagging behind in development. Today, countries form blocs such as ASEAN (The Association of South East Asian Nations), NAFTA (North America Free Trade Area) and for good measure, the UN (United Nations) is also formed for collective security and development.
All this clearly shows that people are interdependent in this age. However, with the dawn of the next millennium, a new, uncertain factor is thrown into human relationship and interdependence – computers. There is a re mote but possible idea that people might depend on each other less, and more on computers. Perhaps man can be an island in a sea of computers.
Q8: The importance of colour in our lives.
I was watching an old Charlie Chaplin show when I started trying to imagine the whole picture in colour. I could not. The black-and-white screen with all the images stayed the way they were no matter how hard I tried to imagine colours, Looking more into the picture, I realised how empty our lives would be without the simple colours we take for granted, from the natural greens the trees to the cold concrete greys to the shocking fuchsia of neon lights to the multicoloured rainbows every one raves about. Our yearnings for colour have been with since the dawn of time. Colours in animals are most vivid in their plumage, fur coats or even bright rear ends, all to differentiate species as well as being a symbol of virility or fertility. From the early functions of aids to mating and eating, colour has become as much a part of our daily lives as eating and drinking.
An animal’s colourings are usually there for the purpose of attracting a mate or hiding from a predator. Both serve highly functional purposes of survival and procreation and thus animals still have such “built-in” faculties. We humans on the other hand are born hairless and then develop relatively hairless, with little exterior colouring other than skin colour. Thus there is a need for us to dress and through this and its colours achieve what our distant cousins have naturally.
Colours in our clothes reflect much about a person and his or her personality – it is also a form of personal freedom one has to express oneself in the way one dresses. It has been and is still one of the best ways of telling others about oneself without actually saying anything, like the rebellious teen who makes a statement with a psychedelic green tie-dye T-shirt or the conservative executive in dull colours or the environmental activist in earthy coloured and textured clothes. Colours too can serve as an identification tag as many institutions as well as corporations have uniforms of the colour of choice so as to have a sense of corporate identity or in the case of students, a sense of belonging to a school. Flags all over the world also serve this purpose as the colours of the flag would symbolise and embody all that the nation or institution strives for. Thus, colour does have a huge bearing on how we live and function.
Colours do more than just tell moods or how one feels that day; they have specific functions in our daily lives. Colours do more than what any language can. Codes that have internationally recognised colours make communication and understanding much easier. International maritime groups as well as traffic lights all over the world rely on colour not words to convey their messages. Col ours also warn others of danger or to exercise caution much like in the animal kingdom where the most colourful creatures are usually the most deadly. Bright reds and oranges line danger sites and warn us through the eye. catching colours.
Our lives are empty without art and art would most definitely be nothing without the innumerable hues and shades of colour one sees gracing paintings and sculptures. The artist who wields the brush best in mixing and blending would be most successful and much of the ant we see now is what it is today with colour. The ever changing shades of colour as well as the simple clean cut black and white are all tools the skilled use to shape out of nothing, things from their imagination, which invariably involves the heavy use of the colours they know so well.
Colour fuels art just as it fuels another equally pervasive part of our life – the media and advertising. One is always attracted to a new fresh and bright looking product on the shelves of a shop and one’s attention is always captivated by the flashing mass of bright colours on the television. Colours are here to attract, much like the natural colours of the animal world. The bright lights and glossy pages filled with various images are all meant to catch the eye, to grab our attention to the product or piece of news in question. Advertisements have increased dramatically with the advent of colour printing as well as colour television and the use of bright, fresh colours shows how effective they have been to have been used for such a long time. Colour has opened a whole new dimension.
Perhaps one of the most important aspect of colour in our everyday lives would be the role it plays in food. One has to eat and now more than ever, one would definitely want to eat well. The first impression of food – the sight – would cause the brain to accept or reject the food a edible or inedible and thus, like advertising, the food has to look good before one wants to eat it. Humans are like that; no matter how good the taste, once the appearance is odd, one would not even dream of eating something. Take for example the red banana. It tastes exactly the same as a normal yellow one but due to some careful hybridisation, has turned red. Many (myself included) would not want to touch it as it does not have the colour one associates with a banana. Colours we are used to, that foods are supposed to have, have to stay that way in order for us to appreciate them. Culinary art, playing with the subtle col ours of the food, has been said to whet one’s appetite for more. So important is colour to food that man even has to make his own to colour some processed foods to make them more appealing.
Colour is highly important to our lives but perhaps the saddest but very true part of colour in our lives is racial discrimination. Having strong prejudices and hate against others just because of skin colour is unjustified and totally wrong on the part of us as humans. Differences in animals in colorisation among the same species are ignored and sometimes revered. Yet we ‘civilised’ beings cannot break the set ideas about others. The colour of one’s skin makes no difference to the contents of a human’s brain or heart; that is something many have yet to understand, which is perhaps made even more difficult by our highly colour-reliant, colour-prejudiced society.
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