Friday, July 13, 2007

When I drive down Braddell towards Thomson, it always amazes me that the authorities actually bothered to split the road to preserve a giant angsana tree that's been standing in that exact spot for the last 80 years. It also amazes me that the tree is one of the oldest of its kind on our island. 80 years. My grandfather lived till he was 90. And by Sunday, this well-weathered octogenarian will be on the chopping block, yet another victim to Singaporean impatience and inflexibility.

Because, despite signposts and warnings, my fellow drivers refuse to slow down to accommodate the road diversion, thereby posing a danger to themselves and to other drivers on the road. It isn't like the little island the tree stands on pops up like a surprise, forcing drivers to slam on their brakes to slow down. The signs are clear and given well in advance, but still... around here, 'slow' is a worse profanity than that other 4-letter word.

And so, because our drivers are stupid, we lose yet another connection to the Earth, another reminder that our planet doesn't exist for the human species alone. In our mania to travel in straight lines at great speeds, we forget to bend, to sway, to enjoy being flexible and appreciate the variety of pace and rhythm, and everything else that makes life interesting in its diversity. And we shrug our shoulders while we complain how stressful life is.

It isn't just about a tree -- although that is sad in itself -- but there's a price to be paid for such callous treatment of things that inconvenience us in the slightest. The immediate punishment is to bear the shame of being associated with the many drivers that ultimately signed the old tree's death-warrant. The longer-term consequences that will befall us as a people for harboring such an attitude, I dare not even speculate.

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