Someone forwarded the following anecdote quite some time ago. I’ll reproduce it here.
A man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.
John tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary.
Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.
John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.
Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.
Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.
The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said,
“I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”
John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued,
“May I ask what the turkey did?”
If we study the above anecdote carefully, there are few things worth taking note. It’s applicable to people with that “parrot” attitude around us. Taking things for granted, ceaseless demands and no sense of proportion thinking that the whole world owe them a living.
Let’a start with the children. If you look around, sometimes you could see spoilt brats throwing tantrums over small little things. Maybe, the mother didn’t buy the toy the spoilt child wanted. He then misbehaves and started screaming, crying, throwing things in public. The hapless mother at wits end.
Maybe only the maid could control him. But it happened on a Sunday with the maid off and the parents bringing out the kid where they only had that limited time together. That’s the maid generation of children we are bringing up in Singapore. They are the future faces of Singapore when they become adults. Let’s hope they won’t vote according to their whims and fancy.
It’s commonly acknowledged that National Service for our boys is the rite of passage to adulthood. Maybe, we should incorporate another few months of compulsory overseas attachment before they ORD to poor neighbouring countries for voluntary work. Send them to some ulu places far away from the cosy comfort of their homes to experience first hand what the real outside world is like.
My Friend Manish – Indian FT turned PR used to harp repeatedly on this idea to me. Without experiencing the dire living conditions lacking in basic necessities like clean drinking water, decent housing, basic education, health care etc, our youngsters will never understand the meaning of deprivation.
People of my generation older than me lived through those days in the kampungs. When I was a teenager, I had to use hurricane lamp and later on, we only had one 4-foot florescent lamp for lighting. We also didn’t have toilet flushing system then. It was bucket style with shit infested maggots cleared by a 36-door night-soil truck on a weekly basis.
With the blink of an eye, within one generation, we have leap-frog to a modern metropolis, obliterating all those rustic kampungs, enjoying the comforts of modern amenities which our young take for granted. That’s why most of them are having this “parrot” phenomenon as in the above anecdote.
Will they, the future inheritors of this fragile tiny sunny island of 710 sq km have the resilience and tenacity to face the many challenges and “threats” looming on the horizon? Hopefully they will not grow up with that “parrot” attitude, only to end up like the “turkey” inside the fridge?
Only time will tell.