Just about a month ago, when #sghaze was trending on local Asian Twittersphere, I was dreading the prospect of having to spend my Christmas with haze comfortably blowing through the windows of my 12th floor HDB flat instead of the usual cold rainy Forks-like weather.
I went away to Malaysia for a distant relative’s wedding last weekend, and four major events have taken place in the span during that two days.
On Saturday, said relative’s daughter had her wedding buffet and hence I was there at the venue with my mom, watching the video montage of the church solemnisation ceremony and pre-wedding preparations while tasting the Asian-Western buffet that was served to everyone. On that same day, my neighbour’s son has gotten married too and initially me and my mom were invited but had to tactfully turn down because we couldn’t split any part of ourselves to be at two places at one time unlike Lord Voldemort.
Then on Sunday 3am, first news broke that an uncle from my mom’s side has passed on from a blood vessel blockage ( this is direct translation from Chinese, pardon me if you’re confused, Western viewers). Not sure if it was a heart attack or stroke though, I am not aware of now.
It’s one thing for a wedding or two to happen, both are life stages that statistically most people go through at least once in their lifetime, and celebrating them are symbolic of ushering in new life and beginnings. But for death events to happen at the same time? If the weekend wasn’t personally a reminder for everyone that on the earthly realm life and death go together hand in hand, then I don’t know what is.
Just several hours before these two simultaneously occurring celebratory occasions, reports flooded social media that Paris had been hit by terrorist attacks at the Bataclan concert. To be honest, I was emotionally indifferent to breaking news of the attack in Paris at first, merely scrolling by the news as it popped up on my Twitter feed. No batting of eyelashes at that. The catalyst that made me go from being indifferent to feeling a real sense of loss was a report from Buzzfeed on identified victims who have passed on. (Link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeednews/here-are-the-victims-of-the-paris-attacks#.yvDBmBadx )
A young lawyer who was an associate in criminal law and white collar crime. A man involved in the urban farming community. A young couple who moved to France together. Students, music industry people, journalists, just to name a few. Seeing the report put many human faces into the events for me, as it hit me that all of them were at different points in their lives, doing vastly different things and each contributed to their personal sphere of influence in a way that is unique of themselves- in ways nobody else could touch, before their untimely deaths. None of them were very old, if I could say, and well, there’s just their time cut short.
A wave of social media activity and Internet platforms followed the news after that, a wide spectrum ranging from ignorant blame towards Muslims to #PrayForFrance to well-meant posts pointing out we shouldn’t forget other countries like Iran and Afghanistan too which are routinely hit by militants there.
While I get the point of most (with the exception of the religious profiling and ignorant blame towards Muslims) of what people internationally were voicing out about, at the back of my mind, my eyebrow raised. Not because I had a involuntary facial spasm.
Just a few days before the Internet was hyped up over #MerryChristmasStarbucks and their plain red coffee cups. A pastor in the US took to mean that Starbucks, a secular coffee company which does not practise Christian values, was ‘insulting Christmas’ and a lot of things I am not going to repeat on my own WordPress. In about the same way, it also led to an influx of Internet activity and Christians urging one another to focus on what’s truly important in the big picture, which is to continue spreading the message of God’s grace and the gospel instead of fighting with whoever or which company does not believe the same about things the way you do. There was an article on getting priorities right as well, and the link to that is right here! http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/why-merrychristmasstarbucks-so-misguided If anyone’s interested in reading it.
How some people think snowflakes are linked to Christmas I’ll never know, where I am from we sure as hell do not link them that way as come Christmas season, we have continuous, intermittent heavy rain and the usage of the word ‘ponding’ when enough water collects in sidewalk crevices and roadside curbs. Singapore is unique this way I suppose? Haha.
But I digress. In the same way like how I have come slipped from talking about Paris to a throwback of the petty Starbucks internet argument, it seems people have slipped into the reverse order as news of the human loss was announced to the whole world. This time, this Internet trend is something that has a heavy stake as it crosses political borders, rearranging conversations to one about radicalisation prevention, what how national governments are going to take action in lieu of all this and many prayers internationally for places bombed with attacks, sometimes literally.
There’s nothing more jolting and unifying than a call about the value of human lives, and whether Atheist, agnostic or devout, this is one thing the whole world can finally agree on. There’s nothing like death to remind everyone that what we normally argue about aren’t that important. Like red coffee cups. Seriously.
And of course, for two celebratory events and two news regarding loss of human life in the same weekend: 1) beginnings and ends do come and go together on this earthly realm 2) Lives have the potential to be flipped over in just a day. Priority reassessing indeed.
There are so many things we could do with our lives, but unexpected deaths make us realise that our time on the earthly realm is not guaranteed. To balance the equilibrium, weddings gives us hope that our best is yet to come and that every past pain works out for its own good.
It’s 1am, and I should be sleeping or risk being closer to being emotionally unhinged. Signing off, good day everyone!