It’s not uncommon when tragedy strikes elsewhere, for those of us spared to muse: What if it were me?
For strategy consultant Devadas Krishnadas, that thought was on his mind as news of Malaysia Airlines MH17 broke.
What if it were a Singapore Airlines flight that was shot down by a missile over rebel-held Ukraine? How would we react as Singaporeans?
He put pen to paper - or finger to keyboard - and the result is this article here, titled In a national crisis, can we count on you, Singapore?
It’s been shared over 2700 times on Facebook. It attracted hundreds of comments on The Straits Times’ Facebook page, running the gamut from the incredulous (touch wood! why ask such a question?), to the reflective (would we be as dignified as the Dutch, who lost so many compatriots on the flight?) to the confident (Singapore and Singaporeans will rise to the occasion).
If the article provoked some thought and some debate on how Singaporeans would react, that’s good enough.
As the editor in charge of the Opinion pages in The Straits Times, I’m constantly looking out for articles that have a point of view on the news. Mr Krishnadas’ article belongs to that category.
I also favour articles that are reflective, that bring me on a journey to a world of knowledge that I am normally not privy to.
Psychiatrist Chong Siow Ann’s many articles for the Opinion section often do that. In his latest, he writes about the state of anxiety.
He starts off with the Brazilian soccer team losing that crucial World Cup match. They were “choked”, he says, using a sport term to refer to a team getting tied up in such a state of anxiety, it falls apart.
We all feel anxious at some time or other in our lives. “But for someone who suffers from an excessive form of it, anxiety means misery, distress and impairment in life,” writes Dr Chong.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses. For some people who live with it, just getting through the day is an achievement.
These two articles have writers trying to put themselves into another person’s shoes. They share a common trait: empathy.
I commend their articles to you.
Chua Mui Hoong writes a weekly blog on this page.