SIGN OF THE TIMES
IT’S UNCIVIL to berate someone who is disabled and suggest that charity should be their only option for survival. Strike that.
It’s downright unconscionable. And anyone with a modicum of decency would want to condemn said person’s actions, only stopping short because we don’t want to appear uncivil ourselves. But then, to rein in our better judgment and say nought is as good as being accomplices to the disgraceful act. It’s a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.
Edmund Burke once said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. That is as true today as it was in the 18th century, except when good men do something today, they run the risk of bringing absurd lawsuits upon themselves.
Perhaps by the time this magazine is out on the newsstands, Ms Alice Fong’s dining misdemeanours will have been forgotten by many. After all, as she has suggested in a newspaper interview, she’s really a good person who was merely a victim of circumstances. She’d been unwell. There was something alien in her food... Right. All of which must justify why she could rain abuse on a cleaner at a food court and denounce his right to earn his living by independent means, even though he’s disabled.
The question is, what is an acceptable response in this sort of situation? This is particularly difficult for me because I’ve seen how people are apt to over-react.
A friend of mine was accused of having said some things. Yet he refused to disclose information that would have explained the situation. This reticence allowed a vicious Internet attack to go unstemmed and eventually caused him to lose his job (because the company took the easy way out to avoid bad press). In taking it like a man of reason, he ended up suffering at the hands of people without restraint.
My friend’s situation may be different from Ms Fong’s, but both cases beg the same call to reexamine the society we live in. We need to ask ourselves what sort of community we are if we have created personalities who are strongly self-centered, self-righteous and uncompassionate. We also need to ask ourselves how we must have treated the handicapped to make them feel responsible and liable for their disability?
Mr Png, the man who was verbally abused by Ms Fong, said he felt bad at having caused the commotion. He will be leaving his job at the mall because of the incident. Isn’t it enough that the disabled have to go through life equipped with less? Why does society pile the sense of guilt on them for not being able to react like the average person? It’s not their fault.
A nation of kindness? It’s an admirable concept but we obviously can’t congratulate ourselves yet when we still have such a long way to go.
DARREN HO MANAGING EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: @DarrenHo Twitter: @DarrenJYHo