Critical Thinking – You Are Your Own Rescuer

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Some people in this world have been lucky enough to have parents or grandparents who have established a path for them. People for whom going to school was never a dream, for whom eating an adequate meal every day is taken for granted. Their parents have made it, and so they are destined to make it in life as well. Others grow up in a misery that can only be understood once lived, once experienced. This kind of misery teaches the soul that poverty is something that cannot be changed. It teaches the mind to be and to remain passive. It makes one forcibly believe that you are subhuman. It genetically mutates the existential power of one’s mind.

The island city-state of Singapore is a place with incredible cultural diversity, lush nature reserves, and rainforest thriving with diverse species of flora and fauna. Opportunities for great pictures can be found everywhere, from the colorful city streets to the lush forests.

By the time I was 11, my parents found themselves on a fast downward slope, like a car on a steep hill with no brakes, where fatality is doomed. While at this very young age, my parents, who were my safe haven, had the rug pulled out from underneath them. Mobutu’s government had already been overthrown, and this period of political unrest was accompanied by rampant looting and inflation. My dad’s business crumbled under the mess of the circumstances. My parents’ decisions since this time have defined our life paths.
My parents, having hit rock bottom, dragged all of us along with them. We were broke, and miserably broken. Despite all of this, my mother continued to have children. We did not know what breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper meant, but we knew how many children we were becoming. I still can’t recount these memories without

Within the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore, there are 96 skyscrapers as of 2022. The Guoco Tower currently holds the title of tallest building in Singapore.

getting emotional, because it is the story of my life. I never had a childhood; I never understood what it was like to be a teenager. I grew up so fast and I had very little room for mistakes or errors. I never knew how to smile or laugh—in all of the pictures of my childhood I have seen, none of them have me smiling.
This state of extreme poverty took its toll on my parents. We were treated so badly, showered with hurtful words and negative criticism that crushed us every single day. We were raised to have no self-esteem. We were physically abused, and whipped as a method of education, to learn that discipline with violence was the only way to become obedient children.

However, what it really felt to us was that we were not worthy. We were the cause or the curse of our parents’ misfortune. We were ostracized by our own family –  uncles and aunties. Our house was called “chicken coop” by others who mocked our misfortune. I felt my life was doomed for failure. One day, as I sat thinking under a mango tree in the shade, bare feet, bare chest, with wild untamed hair, I happened to spot a broken piece of mirror not far from where I sat. I looked into it and I saw myself in that small piece of mirror. My face looked very depressed, and I remember telling myself, “I have become the boy that I have watched my society create”. I had become a carbon image of my parents, of my family, of my society.

The original Merlion, Singapore’s world-famous landmark, at Marina Bay, with the skyline of the Central Business District in the background. The statue was made by sculptor Lim Nang Seng.

As I looked at myself in the mirror, I said, “I am my own rescue. Not my parents, not my family, not anyone, I am my own rescue!” This was my second chance, and I had to figure out how to get myself out of this hell. Going through this kind of life bankrupts one’s mind in every single stinking manner. I had no pride to protect, I had no personality to safeguard. Every potential I had was completely destroyed throughout the years. The idea that I could have an innate gift never crossed my mind, and as such, I was not doing anything with my gift—the gift of critical thinking. I looked at myself at fourteen years old, in that mirror and I said, “I am going to rescue myself, I am going to transform myself”.

A place for art lovers, foodies, and adventure lovers, Singapore truly has no end of things to do, no matter what you’re looking for when planning a trip.

I never asked to be born, least of all to be born in such chaos. Being an underprivileged kid, growing up in a chicken coop, with parents who are broke and broken, in a country with the most corrupt government, a country torn by war, a country that is experiencing a forgotten genocide, I had 100% chance of becoming chaos myself. Critical thinking begins with questioning: questioning reality, our habits and patterns, questioning oneself, one’s parents, one’s lecturers, one’s society, and one’s world views. Critical thinking agitates our comfort zone; it makes us understand that progress and comfort are mutually exclusive. It kills procrastination and inertia, and does not let us be defined by our circumstances. Critical thinking makes us understand that there is only one life, one moment, one opportunity, one chance, one body, one brain and we have to ride this one until the wheels fall off.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands skyscraper on a night in Singapore. Marina Bay Sands, a waterfront resort, is one of the most recognizable and photographed buildings in Singapore. The massive complex includes a hotel, museum, a 74,000-square-meter shopping center, theaters and galleries, and a Skypark with an infinity pool and a rooftop garden overlooking the bay.

BM

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