Everyday life

Cities

A friend was telling me about the headlines news in Hong Kong for two consecutive days. Two separate set of parents were murdered by their own son. Another friend alerted me to the dreadful situation in Japan where a little less than 30,000 people commit suicide every year. That is about 80 people a day.

Is it the stressful nature of these societies that result in such tragedies? Will the Singapore society follow our neighbours and walk down this path as well? I think it is highly likely.

While competition spurs people on to do better, resulting in more efficiency, it creates a highly stressful environment that not everyone can withstand. While cities are vibrant, accessible, convenient places, they are also space-scarce and congested. Cities can be alienating. There’s vast literature on that. And perhaps, in some instances, cities are more alienating than sociable. Because there is so much stimuli, people withdraw into themselves — else they will just be overwhelmed. And who can blame them? It is all for survival?

So what does this mean for Singapore? A city/country where without its people, is absolutely nothing. Perhaps part of the ‘solution’ is to grow our travel industry. Grow our flights, the destinations that we serve, our cruise industry. Provide people with a means of escaping the city, to somewhere where they can find nature, some serenity.

Is there an optimal city size? I think so. But optimal for who? The infrastructure? The environment? The social well being of society? Or the economic sustainability of the city?

Perhaps all cities face this struggle–oscillating between all that is heinous and all that is wonderful. The verdict is yet to be out, but cities will be the trademark of this century, no matter.

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