What makes a country what it is physically? If it is the land itself, what if it is being expanded upon by reclaiming land, with sand from other countries? Being one of the world’s largest sand importer, if Singapore’s millions of tons of sand are from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia… how much of Singapore then, is (not) really Singapore? Without travelling abroad, by merely walking around, you might already be ‘abroad’, with no need for visas.
How much of other countries’ natural lands are lessened, excavated by dredging machines, even if sold legally, for artificial ‘grow’? What is the true price if rich mangrove forests become damaged coastlines, displacing vegetation, humans and animals? The cost is hard to calculate… With invaluable natural barriers against erosion, rising seas, tsunamis and hurricanes being destroyed, it can only be known when disasters gradually mount or suddenly strike.
What makes a country what it is spiritually? Its people of course… though easily forgotten are the impoverished migrant workers, who shape reclaimed land and build upon it, which they cannot consider as theirs, despite much blood, sweat and tears. A scene with a body washed ashore and half-buried in reclaimed sand hints of how the land is literally built upon life itself. Even survivors’ with lives intact expended much of their lives’ efforts to make the land.
Legally obliged to stay put, unable to easily return home even in emergencies, what irony would there be if migrant workers happen to return to lands which were ‘eaten’ from, to feed another land, which they aided in? What always more urgent than growth of land to build more material prosperity, is humanity towards one another, despite being from various lands, and to care for the environment in all lands. This is step one to build a real Pure Land.
As Stoic philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his ‘Meditations’, ‘Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe. For in a sense, all things are mutually woven together and therefore have an affinity for each other—for one thing follows after another according to their tension of movement, their sympathetic stirrings, and the unity of all substance.’ (This review was written shortly after 22 April 2019, the 45th Earth Day.)
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