The Christians are reliving the past, the days of Jesus Christ, the times when miracles happened. Jesus died and was resurrected to live forever. The past can be a great inspiration to many and can be quite frightening to some. The past could be a milestone, a reference point to mark where we have come from and where we should be going into the future.
Last week Hsien Loong was warning the people that if we don’t buck up, we could return to the past, to the 60s. In this sense, the past is something we do not want to revisit.
What were some of the memories of the 60s that are still lingering in our thoughts? Renting a place to sleep, to get married, to set up homes, is a common thing then. The citizens were so comfortable living and sharing with strangers in little rooms, sharing kitchens and toilet facilities. The toilets at home are like public toilets, just as dirty, with no ownership and untidy housemates.
And of course the rooms were small and crammed. A 600 sq ft unit could be shared by 3 or 4 families. Each family of 4 or 8 or more could be squeezed into a single room.
Car ownership was a great status symbol, a social class to be aspired to. There were TV serials just on the theme of car ownership class and how this became the divide of society.
And there were latch key children, with both parents at work and the children given the house key to return to an empty nest. Life was tough and everyone was working hard. The good thing then was the hope and aspirations, the attainable hopes and aspirations for the ordinary folks to own their cars and their flats. And upgrading to bigger and bigger units of flats or private properties were a way of life. Everyone was improving their lives. This latter part, of living their dreams and attaining them quite easily, kept the people happy and focussed on the good life ahead.
In many ways we are already revisiting the 60s in some areas. It is not that we are going backward. We are already there. We are in the process of going full circle. Singaporeans are encouraged to share their flats to strangers and turning their toilets into public toilets, for an income. The new flats are getting smaller and smaller, and with shoe box flats being brandished as the next good thing, more will have to live in them, as owners and not tenants.
The latch key syndrome has not gone away, only the parents. In the 60s, the parents were in Jurong or working somewhere in the island. Today the parents of these latch key children are further away, overseas.
Another 5 years will be all it takes for car ownership to become another new privilege class. Many would have to abandon their dreams of owning a car. Many will live their lives without being able to buy a car while many will be owning 5, 10 or 20 cars.
The upgrading ethos will still carry on. Many will still aspire to upgrade, from a 1000 sq ft HDB flat to a 600 sq ft private flat that costs a million. And their life style will improve with the millionaires living next door. And hopefully no need to turn their toilets into public toilets by subletting to strangers.
The dreams of being rich and owning properties will always be there. There will be those who will become doctors, lawyers, politicians, top civil servants, and be able to afford the rich life of the talented. Many have made it and the reward is more than worth it…if they made it. But many will return to the 60s to live their dreams that will no longer be that easy to attain. It is not a matter of whether they will return to the 60s, they will, many will.
Some of the women folks may end up as maids if they are not careful, and have irons on their faces or falling off while cleaning windows.
The oldies then fared better than those today. Maybe they died earlier. Many could live off their pensions and faded away. Today, the oldies are richer, with plenty of savings in their CPF, but still have to work till they die.