Friday, December 14, 2012

Love and the Singaporean

What's up with all these sex scandals surfacing thick and fast in the media this year? Teachers, principals, uni profs, senior civil servants and parliamentarians: respectable people all, yet publicly disgraced because of some indiscretion causing the affair to be outed for the moral majority to tut-tut over.

Can we really be so shocked that people in our midst would jeopardize promising careers and social standing over some illicit hanky-panky? Perhaps these cases are an indication that our puritanical state is starting to show cracks in the facade we've so meticulously maintained until now and we're finally seeing that biology is a much stronger force than we thought we could control.

Romantic love washes the brain over with a cocktail of chemicals that messes up the logical thought process. The feel-good sensations one experiences when one is in love encourages living for the moment; the sense that nothing else matters; and -- most importantly -- reckless, risk-taking behaviour. Hence, people with the most to lose are also likely to be the biggest risk-takers regarding matters of the heart.

Here, I'm confused because on the one hand our population is suffering a baby-dearth while on the other, we're criminalizing behaviour that gives rise to more babies. Could this strange dichotomy be at the heart of our population problem -- that the people we marry are not the ones we are in love with?

Before you overreact, let's think about the common Singaporean courtship ritual. It's planned, organized, structured. The proposal comprises making plans to purchase public housing for the couple; the wedding is a programmed event that follows a generally predictable order of must-dos scheduled to the second; child-bearing brings a new round of planning; while child rearing likewise follows a narrow, set pathway or bust.

If love is reckless and encourages risk, the Singaporean marriage pact is hardly that. Without allowing room for the chaos of romantic love, the Singaporean couple isn't likely to change its plans regardless of whatever "baby bonus" is thrown at it. And if wild, crazy romantic love isn't found in a Singaporean household, is it so surprising that dissatisfied partners may be finding it elsewhere, in more dangerous places, with more disastrous consequences?


masterofboots said...

but that kind of love doesn't usually produce babies

Min Seah said...

it's the kind of love that'll produce lots of babies. trouble is, it's not happening between the right people. if we want more babies, we have to stop overplanning our families.