Friday, May 28, 2010

A time and a season

Eat with Your Family Day. I hadn't notice there there is such as day, even though, from what I read, this started out in 2003. And it isn't because I wasn't a father 7 years ago. I was one and still am. But perhaps it hadn't been publicized enough to catch my attention all these years. But now that it has, I am disturbed.

What does the existence of such as day tell us about life in Singapore? Isn't having at least one meal everyday together with the family a given? You mean to tell me that having dinner with the family during the weekdays has become a rare occasion, so rare that it has to be celebrated once a year? What are we all doing during the weekdays that a family cannot sit together, particularly in the evenings, to enjoy a meal as a family? It should be a routine, so much so that it isn't anything to remark about, and certainly not something that you would think of designating a day in the year to celebrate. Yes, you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, etc., but celebrating when a family has a meal together? Its unbelievable, and this probably can only be found in Singapore. A Google search of the term "Eat with your family day" returns only Singapore related websites! (But of course, Singapore probably wasn't where it originated).

It appears that in Singapore, this is the price we pay for our unrelenting search for progress and creature comforts. In the process, we seem to have put our families on the back burner (that's where the number of kids issue comes in - see my last post). So OK, some say that's a fact of life, but can't we even spend one weekday having a meal together as a family? If the answer is yes, then this "Eat with Your Family Day" (EWYFD) is superfluous. Probably good for the restaurant business, but superfluous. If not, we have lost the meaning of life and love. Some would say, we have lost our souls. We have become nothing more than a production line worker churning out the next productivity statistic.

People talk about Work-Life balance. Going by the mere existence of EWYFD, we know that its basically all talk. Surely the proponents of Work-Life balance did not have EWYFD in mine as an objective?

My call to all Singaporeans is this: when the clocks strikes 6pm (or whenever your stated end of the day working hour may be), leave the office promptly and head home immediately. If the boss casts a disapproving  eye at you, wave goodbye in return. And if your colleagues look perturbed, show them the clock and remind them that they have an equally, if not more, important obligation to the family. Better yet, time the air-conditioner to shut off  at the end of the workday hour. Any boss that penalizes sensible action should be hung out as bad examples. We shouldn't want to celebrate organisations that are family-friendly. It is more important to highlight those that are anti-social family-unfriendly, if only to show them the error of their ways. There is no end to making money. But, like wise King Solomon said, there is a time and season for everything.

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