I just came back from a (para) church camp. There was quite a lot of interesting things that I learnt from it and I will share these insights bit by bit. Here’s just one of them:
I think in Singapore, when it comes to morals (particularly in the religious sense), we’re pretty individualistic. There’s quite a lot of history and reasons behind this, I suppose. Our post-colonial mentality – ‘individualism’ as an inherited concept from the west, as opposed to the eastern ‘communal’ (arguable), the post-modern age (more grey areas, ‘you do you and I do me’, rise of relativism). You could even quote scripture for this: Matthew 7: 3-5; take out the plank in your own eye before you comment on the sawdust in your brothers – be more self-reflective. We’re a conflict avoiding society, we believe peace necessitates conflict avoidance. We lack a rebuking culture.
Yet, this camp challenged me to think about ‘communal’ sins. Communities are known to have been punished for sins of the individual – yes, families, but also those ‘unrelated’ to the individuals. In a contemporary sense, think about the many deaths in human history (genocides, wars, and ethnic cleansings) because of a few individuals sins. We’re complicit in those sins because of our inaction, we’re a part of those sins, it’s a passive sin, but a sin nonetheless. It’s so related to my unhappiness about being trapped in society: (I believe I’ve wrote about this before?) our society’s terrible failures at combating global problems like poverty, climate change, etc., individuals being so deeply entrenched in the capitalist system (exploitation of nature, animals, and people. And there is no way out for the individual, in a sense). In this societal/systematic sin, we’re all, as individuals, either unaware, uncaring, or simply, choice-less. It reminded me of how I used to be so passionate about the sins I committed (thinking about the everlastingness and severity, being consumed by the guilt). And now?
I don’t have a conclusion. But let us remember that we’re much more than ourselves. We’re responsible and accountable for the state of other’s lives (and afterlives, salvation).