Thursday, July 8, 2010

Do no harm? Sucker, suckerer, suckerest?

"Man is not naturally altruistic because he has a selfish gene. The golden rule expresses man's yearning to overcome his base nature - or rather, his basic nature. It enjoins social beings like us to think before we act, and instructs that before we do anything, we must first consider whether our actions are likely to cause harm to others."

In his speech, the CJ also said, "What is evil depends on one's views of what is morally right and morally wrong, and how one distinguishes 'right' from 'wrong' may depend on many factors, such as one's religious faith or lack of it, or one's philosophy of life."

I read about the
letter from the then Singapore's attorney general to then Law Minister S. Jayakumar regarding the case of the presence of unauthorised persons inside polling stations [Link] then I read about the appeal of Yong Vui Kong [Link].

Then I realised something is amiss.

Therefore, I ask:
  • Is it good to do real good or just talk and act (wayang) good?
  • Is it better to suck up?
  • Is it betterer (morally right or morally wrong) to do no harm to those who can fix us up real bad?
  • Is it betterest to do whatever, regardless of conscience or morals, to self-serve and self-preserve?
Pardon me, I just cannot resist the new high faluting English newspeak that's been flying around like crazy lately [Link]

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the National University of Singapore last week. Here's an excerpt from his acceptance speech.


"WHAT little I have to say draws its inspiration from the title of a book recently published by the National University of Singapore's Centre for Maritime Studies: Why Am I Here? Its author is President S R Nathan, also Chancellor of the National University of Singapore.

'The unexamined life is not worth living.' So said Socrates, who paid with his life for insisting on living in accordance with his own maxim. The question 'Why am I here?' requires each of us to examine our purpose in life and to set our life goals.

The question should be asked when one starts one's career and not at the end of it, because it may be too late then to change anything for the better. The past is gone, and can only be recalled but cannot be re-lived. When the poet W.H. Auden was considering this question, he said: 'We are here to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know.'

A few weeks ago, The Straits Times reported that Master of Business Administration (MBA) students in the United States have decided that on graduation, they will take a pledge of integrity patterned on the Hippocratic Oath to 'do no harm'.

What is particularly apt for doctors, whose primary function is to heal the sick and alleviate their pain and suffering, may not necessarily be appropriate for managers of businesses with MBA degrees, as the primary, if not the sole function, of the latter is to maximise profits. Still, the pledge of the MBA students is a good start in recognising that they can help in correcting the excesses of capitalism in order to save it.

The concept of harm is easy to grasp - whether it is physical harm, mental harm, financial harm or social harm - because it is tangible. A variation of the 'do no harm' principle is the 'do no evil' principle.

But the concept of evil is harder to grasp. What is evil depends on one's views of what is morally right and morally wrong, and how one distinguishes 'right' from 'wrong' may depend on many factors, such as one's religious faith or lack of it, or one's philosophy of life. At its simplest, however, something evil is something bad.

The 'do no harm' principle finds expression in what is commonly known as the 'golden rule', which has its roots in the great religions and cultures of China, India, Greece and the Middle East.

A positive version of this rule can be found in The Bible, Matthew 7:12: 'Do unto others as you would have done unto you.' A negative version can be found in the Analects of Confucius: 'Do not do unto others what you would not like to be done to you.'

Man is not naturally altruistic because he has a selfish gene. The golden rule expresses man's yearning to overcome his base nature - or rather, his basic nature. It enjoins social beings like us to think before we act, and instructs that before we do anything, we must first consider whether our actions are likely to cause harm to others.

As each of you leaves this hall, you may wish to remember these words of the poet William Cowper:

'Existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything. The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.'

But it must not be a wholly selfish purpose. Thus, I would commend that your answer to the question 'Why am I here?' should firstly be: 'To do good, do no harm, and do no evil to my neighbour.'

It may then be asked, as the lawyer in Luke 10:29 asked: 'And who is my neighbour?' To answer that question: He is my neighbour who needs my help or is most likely to be affected by my actions. For all of us who live in Singapore, our neighbour should first be those living in Singapore.

For some of us, I think that the following lines of the poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore may have expressed it best:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy;
I awoke and saw that life was duty;
I acted, and behold, duty was joy.
It only requires a few good men to make a nation great. Will you be among them?"

--------------------------------------
A few good men? No sir, it takes more than a few 'god' men, Mr (Them vs Us) Elitist. It takes every citizen to do his part to make this Singapore great. Ironically as of now, we even need more gamblers and professionals of the oldest profession to make this "aspiring" nation great!

A few good men and maybe a certain familee?
Great Scott! They think they own the whole damn flooding, over-crowded and hard-to-breathe island!

feedmetothfish



43 Comments:

At July 9, 2010 at 12:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

do no harm - as in Mee Siam mai harm?

 
At July 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me has only one non high falutin wish.

And

that is; the Justice System(Judiciary) not only upholds the Laws.

IT WILL ALSO DILIGENTLY AND ALWAYS DO ITS' BEST TO UPHOLD JUSTICE, ALWAYS.

patriot

 
At July 9, 2010 at 2:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justice?

With power you can invoke justice. With money you can pervert justice.

So, what is justice?

 
At July 9, 2010 at 2:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Factual Comment and Good question.

Let's see if the Magistracy and the Government are awared of the Realities.

Anyway Justice per se should not be interpreted in the Ways they are practiced in SIN. Or else Justice could be perverted.

Justice in it's simplest meaning is to right all wrongs.

patriot

 
At July 9, 2010 at 4:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respect only one person who really uphold justice - 'Justice Pao'.

He dispensed justice without fear nor felt beholden to anyone, without favoring kin nor cronies, with equal respect for the rich as well as the downtrodden and aggrieved, and without bending to any power too overbearing.

That is upholding justice.

 
At July 9, 2010 at 9:15 PM , Anonymous harmful familee genes said...

Fish,
Nathan's book, 'why am I here' can be summarised in one sentence, 'Handpicked as LKY's Stooge' and that includes the misChief judge and everyone in the PAP govt.

Although humans have the so called selfish gene, I am convinced the MIW have a lot more genes that make them vastly different from most folks. For instance, a gene that makes them immune to shame or a gene that inhibits their ability to speak the truth, show empathy or a gene that constantly makes them deluded.

Looks more and more like harmful genes to me, fish.

 
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