Sep 21, 2011

[Metro] It All Starts With Discipline

On our trip to Singapore last month. I snapped this quick photo at the train station. Notice anything different?

At first glance, it doesn't seem like anything fancy. It's just people on an escalator, right?

But notice how they're all standing on one side? That's the ticket right there.

They are deliberately queuing on the left-hand side of the escalator, leaving the ride side free. Free for what you ask? Well, in public transit hubs like train stations and even the walkalators at the airport, the practice is to queue left for most folks, but if you're in a hurry you can take the right side and briskly dash by. And it's not like Singapore is alone in this practice. I've heard that Japan does the same thing.

There are a few signs here and there that remind people to do this, but for the most part people just automatically follow. It's all just conditioned into everyone's psyche or something - a lovely display of discipline that certainly inspires one to hope for a better tomorrow even here in the Philippines.

What prevents us from being similarly disciplined? Where have we gone wrong as a culture that people repeatedly choose to disobey laws and not follow rules. It's all over the place - people who smoke where they're not supposed to. People who jay walk and not wait for the street lights to change. People who stay in the bus lane in order to get along faster than scramble back into the main lanes of EDSA before the cops catch them. People who litter left and right. The list goes on and on.

The biggest cause of our woes is not the government or the lack of education. At its core it's the level of self-discipline that people choose to practice day in and day out, I feel. By remaining selfish and undisciplined and unwilling to give up individual advantage in favor of others, well, it leads to a lot of madness and crazier things when allowed to take their natural course of progression.
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  1. the Juna and I have spent some time in this discussion together with the Housemate. I believe that we value freedom too much.

    Some of us do not realize that with that the freedom we are enjoying comes with responsibilities as well. The image of landlords that did not care for consequences are the fantasy some of us choose to live.

    We can't break more than three centuries of tyranny in a decade or so. There are a lot of cultural and behavioral factors that must be unlearned first.

    Edward Everett Hale once said, “I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something."
    Sometimes the simplest thing like setting a good example is enough... for now until time and tides give us the opportune moment to be a mechanism of change.

  2. I'll try to be on the left side from now on. It's a very good idea.

  3. Lanchie: Very good points - obviously I agree. Freedom is not simply doing whatever you want. But it's living within rules that enable everyone to do what they want without crossing certain limits.

    Elmer: Haha, well it works in Singapore for many reasons. If ever I imagine we're more of a right hand side kind of culture.