An Unlikely Speaker of Ethics
New York Times Magazine, 09/11/1930
Recently, in my home country, the one I dub "Police State", a tragic event has shattered the public consciousness. A little girl was kidnapped and soon found to be dead. What sensationalised the case was that the little girl was the child of a foreign resident, and that the case was shrouded in mystery and anxiety. The emotional significance of the tragedy eventually prompted the collective efforts of a voluntary search team made up by local citizens. The media (which plays a major role in developing a pro-government/pro-state mentality) was quick to praise the "charitable" nature of the country's citizens, especially against the modern barrage of individualism and self-centreness.
However, when it came to the time of the funeral, a different phenomena occured, one that is in direct contrast to the "altruistic" nature proported by the media. A larger turnout was witnessed at the funeral, where "concerned" citizens joted down numbers from any object at the funeral deemed to have superstitutious luck (e.g. the car number of the funeral van). In defense (however remote it can be defended), this is a cultural norm regularly practiced here that has yet to be scrutinized. Optimists may also try to allude to the charitable donations made to the family of the victim during the wake. Sadly, this is where the heart of the matter is. The donations, supposedly thought to be given out of a sympathetic nature, became the new focus of the public consciousness and now were investigated in terms of its use. Apparently, now it is a "grave" issue to the public to be informed of how the family intended to spent the donations and how much they received. Further, if the "good luck" endowed by the donations were not reciprocated, then the donations were considered a poor investment.
In other words, donations, according to its definition in the Oxford dictionary: "a gift bestowed especially to a cause", and perhaps we should add, out of selfless motivation, has become something totally different in the "Police State". It must be deemed to be a worthy social investment that must deliver returns, especially of the monetary kind. For every merit the media was willingly to portray, a deeper analysis shows otherwise. And perhaps unfortunately, it is regarded as an unworthy and valueless discussion.