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Thread: The problem with envy

  1. #1
    Makelele Guest

    Default The problem with envy

    April 8, 2007

    The problem with envy

    With the rich getting richer, what does one do when envy strikes?

    By Sumiko Tan

    IS IT just me, or do you also feel a sense of disquiet creeping up on you whenever you read the newspapers these days?

    In particular, stories about the red-hot property market and how swanky apartments - with price tags to match - are being snapped up left, right and centre and stories about people earning mind-blowing sums of $5 million a year?

    Do these stories make you a little unhappy with your own life? Do they leave you with niggling feelings of being left out of the party, of the champagne bypassing you?

    Oh, don't shoot the messenger. Newspapers merely report what's happening out there, and in all probability the stories are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Actually, what's happening in Singapore - to Singapore - is a cause for celebration for every Singaporean.

    I can't remember another period where there's been so much buoyancy, so much optimism and anticipation, about the country.

    The way I see it, the tide turned when the okay was given for the integrated resorts. Imagine not one but two casinos being allowed in famously constrained Singapore.

    With the IRs come not just high-class gambling like the sort you see in Las Vegas but also an ArtScience museum in Marina Bay and a Universal Studios theme park in Sentosa. And it's all just two, three years away.

    Then came the property boom, and what a boom this time around. Singapore has never seen apartments this luxe being launched, and with price tags that were unthinkable just a year ago.

    New pricing benchmarks are set every other week. The current record? The Orchard Residences where the smallest unit - 1,800 sq ft - sold for at least $7.2 million. A 53rd storey penthouse was reportedly snapped up by a Singaporean businessman for more than $17 million.

    Then came news that Singapore might host the Formula One Grand Prix and that one blew me away.

    If it materialises, no one can ever say that Singapore isn't one hot city.

    Picture the circus that will roll into town every year. Imagine the maniacal drone of cars in the old City Hall area, Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari streaking past the Esplanade, good ole Merlion spouting water in the distance, the Singapore River shimmering behind.

    Singapore will be not just the Paris and Las Vegas of South-east Asia, but Monaco thrown in, too, and everyone will get to feast on the spoils.

    It's a vision that makes your pulse quicken with excitement. It's a vision that makes you glad you are Singaporean and which makes you wish you were 20 years younger so you can be a big part of the future.

    It's also a vision that causes envy.

    THE disquiet I feel when I read such stories is part fear, part envy.

    The fear comes from being worried that in this brave new world that will be Singapore, I will be left out and priced out.

    And if I - someone working in the media and who is presumably attuned to change - am feeling this way, what about others around me?

    Take property.

    With prices headed north, there's no way in this lifetime I'll ever get to live in a prime or near-prime district.

    Lucky for me, though, that I don't suffer from property envy. I live in an unfashionable suburb, in the same house for 35 years and it's hardly ever been renovated.

    Save for a nice garden (because my mother has green fingers), I live in rather shabby conditions by today's standards where chandeliers in living rooms are de rigueur (we still use fluorescent lights at home).

    Still, I wouldn't exchange my house for one in exclusive Sentosa Cove. I love it too much and hope to never leave it because it holds so many memories.

    But being single, I have to be realistic and chances are, I might have to let go of it one day if it becomes too difficult or expensive to upkeep.

    Then what? Where can I uproot to? What can I afford then? With property priced so ridiculously high, will I have to settle for something sad in my old age?

    It's a thought that worries me and makes me unhappy.

    Or take jobs and salaries.

    While journalism will never pay as much as law or accountancy, I've always thought it a decent enough paymaster.

    Decent, that is, until I read about how others are earning so much more.

    Which makes me wonder why I'm not up there, too. Is it for lack of intelligence, ability or opportunity? Lack of ambition, energy or drive? Lack of a mentor? Why are others more able and also luckier than me?

    Self-doubt - oh, let's be honest now and call it what it really is, which is envy - isn't a good feeling.

    ARISTOTLE described envy as pain at the good fortune of others.

    Immanuel Kant called it a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one's own.

    Envy is different from jealousy in that jealousy involves three parties (the subject, the rival and the beloved), while envy is between two (you and the object of your envy).

    Envy as a moral ill pales in comparison to killing, stealing and lying. There's also benign envy, which is akin to grudging admiration, and the more malicious form where you have dark thoughts.

    But whatever its definitions or place in the list of deadly sins, it is a sour, soul-destroying emotion. It corrodes your spirit, sets you against the world and shakes your sense of worth.

    It is also a waste of time because, really, comparing and worrying about others' success serves no purpose other than to cause you stress. Others earning more does not make you earn less, does it?

    Last week, while mulling over this topic, I read in Life! an extract from a book titled Letter To A Great Grandson. It contains life's lessons which American TV host Hugh Downs had penned in 2002 when his great-grandson was born.

    In it, Downs, now 86, says that 'success' in life is 'a matter of adjustment'.

    'If you achieve what you set out to achieve, you will be successful - if the goal had value from the start,' he says.

    'If you fall short of a goal, but realise along the way that there are other valuable goals and are flexible enough to shift to better ones, you will also be successful.

    'If the values you cherish have evolved only from the short-term, the selfish, the hedonistic, the frivolous, your success will not be genuine.

    'Values that allow and encourage commitment and the desire to contribute to others, produce some enlightenment and ratchet the community one notch higher in quality of life are the ones that will undergird success of the kind you want.'

    So as Singapore enters its next phase and becomes a very successful and splendid city of casinos and penthouses and rich, beautiful folk flocking to our shores, people like me will watch, partake of what they can offer and savour the riches on show.

    It will hit me hard that some things will always be beyond my reach.

    If I can accept that, and my lot in life, I will be happy. If not, envy will breed and bitterness fester.

    The choice is really ours to make.

    [email protected]

  2. #2
    stupid girl Guest

    Default Re: The problem with envy

    Sumiko Tan should just stay put in her landed property with garden and feel lucky that she has spent the last 35 years growing up in one. She's one of the 10% of Singaporeans living in landed, no matter where that landed property is located, prime or non-prime. She should thank her lucky stars that she didn't have to grow up in a cramped 3 room HDB. Well maybe if she did, she wouldn't be writing meaningless articles (like this) for the Straits Times for a living now. She would have been somebody who is actually a productive member of the economy and society, like Olivia Lum or lawyer/NMP Siew Kum Hong, both who grew up poor and turned their lives into something.

  3. #3
    feellike slapping Guest

    Default Re: The problem with envy

    Quote Originally Posted by Makelele
    But being single, I have to be realistic and chances are, I might have to let go of it one day if it becomes too difficult or expensive to upkeep.

    Then what? Where can I uproot to? What can I afford then? With property priced so ridiculously high, will I have to settle for something sad in my old age?
    does she consider HDB flats 'something sad'? this b***h is one prime example of someone who embodies the ugliness of the aspirational wannabe yuppy.

    currently already living relatively well, yet bitches about being too poor to move into prime condo should she be unable to handle the upkeeping of her landed property, yet despises the only logical alternative (HDB) as 'something sad'.

    There is only one thing to say to that: **** ***

  4. #4
    Unregistered Guest

    Default Re: The problem with envy

    What are you doing in a condo forum, if you weren't the slightest bit "aspirational" yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by feellike slapping
    does she consider HDB flats 'something sad'? this b***h is one prime example of someone who embodies the ugliness of the aspirational wannabe yuppy.

    currently already living relatively well, yet bitches about being too poor to move into prime condo should she be unable to handle the upkeeping of her landed property, yet despises the only logical alternative (HDB) as 'something sad'.

    There is only one thing to say to that: **** ***

  5. #5
    Unregistered Guest

    Default Re: The problem with envy

    Hey hey Sumiko wrote that on Sunday, a day before ministers got pay rise. Doesn't that make you stop and think?

  6. #6
    Curious Guest

    Default Re: The problem with envy

    Anyone one of you here is dating her?

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