The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is Singapore an uncaring society?

A society reveals itself by the way it communicates to its people. So, it is with Singapore.

Yesterday, I stepped into a lift and I saw a notice on the wall. It was from the Housing Development Board and it had been widely distributed to communicate a safety message. The message was a simple one and explained in detail: windows, on high rise flats, have inherent dangers and must be protected against. A set of detailed precautions were given, advising on the maintenance and upkeep of windows to prevent a mishap.

This was "all well and good". However, there was something else which I noticed about the poster, which really perturbed me. You see, at the bottom of the notice, in large letters there was the slogan: "Your loved ones could be hurt". It was the only message on the poster that said, directly, that windows could hurt people. Think about it for a minute. What does it imply about the society to which it is addressed? For me it says something really, really, dark about Singapore. It says that, in the Government's opinion - for it is a notice from a branch of Government - that the people of Singapore will ONLY care about personal injury to their immediate relatives and loved ones. Stated, most clearly, by that slogan was the fact that an appeal to a Singaporean's general concern for their fellow man, would be ineffective. They had to make the poster personal. By saying: "Your loved ones could be hurt", they were saying that you, personally, could be affected by failing to maintain your windows. Clearly, it was thought that something more general like: "Someone could be killed", would have no effect on people's behaviour. Seeing those words, therefore, appalled me - for it told me most clearly, what the Government must know and think about its own people. It says that they JUST DON'T CARE.

Is there any evidence of this lack of care in daily life, here? Well, there is: plenty of it. Most relevantly, is that one not infrequently hears of things falling from windows, and sometimes people are hurt. Occasionally, such things are even reported - so it is not something which does not happen - it is a danger of life in a high-rise city. Yet, should such things happen? It should be a simple matter to ensure that there is nothing able to fall from a window - just don't put anything there. It is also a simple matter to ensure that the windows are safe: get them repaired if they start to look precarious. Yet, the Government here, knows that people don't take such precautions - that people don't think of the strangers down below who might be hurt or killed, by their negligence regarding windows. Hence, the notice that brings the danger closer to home - it is not strangers that might be hurt, but your own family.

It is true of course. One's own family could be hurt by ill-fitting, badly secured windows. Yet, in most countries, I feel it would have been sufficient to say: "Someone could be killed - take care of your windows." Something like that would work in any society in which people value all life, in which people care whether or not others come to harm by their actions or inactions. Clearly, Singapore is not such a place. If it was, the communication would have been different. It would have felt no need to bring it down to the level of the individual's loved ones.

In all, I found the poster rather chilling therefore. Do people really care so little for their fellow human beings, here?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and six months, and Tiarnan, twenty-three months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:10 PM 


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