Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Yet another day spent off-campus. The M2 is getting a real workout this week. Couldn't come at a worse time for him 'cos he's overdue for his 5000km servicing and I've been too busy to make an appointment with Mazda. Hope he doesn't start falling apart through my abuse.

The Department signed up to attend another GP Seminar, an occasion for most of our fellow GP tutors from all colleges to meet and gather in one spot to listen to Important People talk about Important Things. This time, it was about the Geopolitics of the Middle East. The speakers were 2 very distinguished representatives who've had significant experience with our Foreign Affairs. Of the 2, I've only heard of Mr Mahbubani whose services for Singapore in the UN and in other strange lands are quite well documented. Just Google his name and check out 'em glowing credentials.

Our speakers very briefly touched on the surface issues surrounding that extremely bristly corner of our world, giving it so much of our diplomatic attention. They gave us a little historical insight into the Arab-Israeli problem; discussed our economic and diplomatic interests in the region, our surprisingly respected voice in the politics there (basically everyone tolerates a voice of reason), the opening up of the media which is oddly backfiring on the US who encouraged such press freedoms in the first place; and they reminded us of the fact that whatever we might think of the Arab world, the vast majority are people just like us, who want the things we want and have to some level already achieved: peace, security, freedom of expression, shopping, you know, the normal stuff we can all identify with.

And some of these normal activities we take for granted can be like a bunch of us dropping in on the Colbar for lunch before car-pooling our way to the IPAM auditorium for the seminar. The freedom of sitting at a table with a bunch of friends (Amy, HP, Yee and Gerald), tear into our meat, mushrooms and chips and laugh at the general silliness of life, and no one to tell us we can't do that because ... [insert whatever oppressive doctrine here].

Everyone should have the right to do what we did this afternoon. The tragedy is, we're amongst the few in this world, for one reason or another, who actually can. Sobering thought.

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