When giving is NOT buying

I love Christmas. It’s a season of hope, renewal, love, inspiration, joy and contemplation. It’s about giving and sharing.

Being in Beijing, well in a country which originally doesn’t really have anything to do with this celebration or meaning, it has definitely a lot to offer. The lights, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, billboards, jingly decorations and snow man portray nothing of any sort of the birth of Jesus. This is definitely not surprising coming from a City where there’s not a single sight of a standing church.

Unlike in many western countries, where the smell of mulled wines, cookies, waffles and bakeries lurking in the winter air, the Chinese smell OPPORTUNITY in the air, well which is literally translated into MONEY. Whether it’s the money-burning shopping spree from the consumers or the cashing-in sound of the register, it spells ECONOMY.

This is unquestionably a trend of globalization, no? One World?

This is purely an excessive crapload of commercialized and propagated consumerism. People just want to find reason to buy. Oh, Christmas Sale? People can save thousands on this season? Listen, people save when they DON’T buy what they DON’T need.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of giving, especially to our loved ones, but not the twisted and manipulated picture painted by greedy corporations. We shop for months, getting into debts, rip apart the packaging one morning, forget it the next day and chuck them in the closet and shelves collecting dust. Do we need more cluster? C’mon it is about giving, or buying?

The focus here is certainly on buying not on sharing.

Christmas is NOT about wish-lists, shopping, overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, excessive fancy wrappings, and bunch of endless needless stuffs that goes with it but it is the time for family, friends, eating cookies, laughing at each other, gossiping, tightening bonds, reunion and reconciliation.

Giving can be in many forms, with a little thought and creativity; we can give our loved ones gifts which can leave little footprint to our environment but large footprint to our hearts.

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012 my dearest ones!

Thank you 2011.

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Inconvenient Truth

The most profound thing that I’ve discovered and learned in 2011 is trying to define “truth”.
For this discovery, I’ll have to thank my collection of experiences for the past few months. It’s never a question of Black or White to begin with. Let’s put it in a very bleak clarity, that truth has NEVER seemed so far away.

Before I proceed further, I find it essential to stress that there’s a difference between trusting and accepting THE “truth”. Trust to me is a fundamental faith that involves a reliability that we have for a certain source or person. Trust can be harnessed with time.

Truth for example reveals the reality of something. It brings precision and transparency, the yardstick we use to identify our moral correctness or righteous consistency.

Being an engineering student requires us to work with pure hard facts. You can’t defy F = ma or E = mc2. We grew up with utter scientific proven hypotheses and figures which have been used and generated over the past centuries. From these theories, innovations are made and new technologies are discovered. My curiosity on science and technology has then been substantiated when I know I want to be part of a solution – ideas being transformed into reality.

Of course in practical, it sounds too good to be true. There are always limitations and constraints and it is our job to link scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human needs.

Engineering ethics aside, my curiosity on social behaviors and code of conduct has intensified over the last years. I try not to impose myself to seek for the cause of social unjust whereas I’d prefer to look for answers. I’d like to think that as much as we’re bumping up against “harsh reality” such as wars, economic crises, inflation, depression, suicide bombing, famine, HIV, climate change, peak oil, natural catastrophes and things will only look bleaker as we head into the future, there’s a tinge of hope that I can hold on to.

But there’s no instant solution without knowing the roots of the problems. I’ve figured that it’s more important for us as a society to first question ‘WHY’ are all these happening around us.

And then I start to question myself how important are all these projected truths to me?

I’m filled with doubts and finding it difficult to accept certain ideology, habits and practices.

Something reminded me again that it’s doubt that drives a man onwards. All these barriers that are dividing society bring so much agony and tension amongst people.

We are disrespecting the planet, squeezing and exploiting till the very last drop of natural resources it could offer. An egocentric society which focuses on affluence and power, security and possessions just to keep the flow of economy sounds senseless to me.

Our economic indicator portrays obsessive figures on our development and progression, but people forget about the true value of our Earth’s assets, which we can get for free.

The national pride, competition, history, and stereotype wipe out human beings’ common goal which is the pursuit of happiness and love.

I’d like to bear in mind that no matter how heart breaking and bitter the situation and system is, I’ll consciously remain optimistic and cling to the hope for a holistic, sustainable and renewable world. That’s my hope for 2012. Change. Less equals to more. < = >

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PS: This blog post is triggered by the death of Kim Jong Il. Cheers to our fellow comrades!