Context is everything, but it seems these days people are losing sense of what it means. I'm referring to the online debacle with the Pre-U Sem (from now identified as 'PUS') kid who was upset that the guest political dignitary (from now identified as 'DPM') did not answer his or anybody else's questions during the Q&A. Instead, DPM redirected the questions back to the questioners for their take on the situation.
First, I'm not going on about the crude language said kid coloured his online response with. Online, crudity of expression is fair game, to be expected, with the exception of certain refined individuals who represent a tiny minority. This post is more about how our kids have no idea how a discussion is supposed to be conducted.
For them, questions must have answers. Answers must be satisfactory, and should be useful in scoring an 'A' grade at the final exams. After all, kids are forced to cook up some kind of question for Q&A sessions, so at least the panel should have the courtesy of providing a suitable answer. Full-stop. Draw a line across. It's very upsetting for a kid when the replies don't follow protocol. The question is wasted, the time spent thinking it up is wasted. The questionee must be an idiot because he doesn't have an answer. I should know... I get that all the time in class. I'm used to it.
About context. Q&A sessions (and people are going to hate me for saying such) are invitations to a discussion; i.e., a sharing of information. You share some with me, I share some with you. When the panel returns a question, it's an invitation for further conversation. This pattern repeats itself until a resolution or something else more interesting arises.
Discussions are a form of dialogue. Unfortunately, PUS kid got upset because he wasn't interested in dialogue. Instead, he took the Q&A to be an interrogation. I ask the questions, you tell me the answer. If I'm not happy with your answer, I'll abuse you until you tell me an answer I want to hear. Which, basically sums up what happened online.
The really sad thing is that the kid is attending the PUS with no idea why he is doing so. The PUS is organized annually as a forum for JC-level academic peers to gather and discuss national issues, to come up with ideas and projects that pro-actively address national concerns. We invite a political representative not to listen to his directives but rather propose to him what we plan to do, independently, with a well-thought through plan, because it's the right thing to do. So in fact, the guest is not there to be interrogated, but to be impressed by our initiative, our drive and our ingenuity. We are the ones who provide the answers to his concerns, not the other way around.
Now that the PUS kid has apologized, I hope he knows what he is apologizing for. It's not because he behaved badly but that his bad behaviour was the result of misidentifying his role in the PUS in general, and in the Q&A specifically.
BTW, it's really hard to be the government right now, especially when the people are becoming increasingly ungovernable. When you have answers to questions, people call you a tyrant; non-consultative; dictatorial. When you invite discussion, people call you incompetent, having no ideas; not worth your salt. When things go well, no one notices; but when things go wrong, you're everybody's favourite whipping-boy.
With a people like that, it doesn't matter whether our representatives are from the ruling party or from the opposition. We will always be unhappy with the government whenever we don't get what we want. You couldn't pay me a million dollars to take on that kind of thankless job.