Sunday, 21 May 2017

The cry of the heart of society.

Goh Lee Yin is 36, an engineer and suffering from a disorder called kleptomania. 
Her run-ins with the law started in 2005 to 2007 for theft. She was placed on probation then after being diagnosed with kleptomania. 
But she did not (or could not) stop her actions. She continued to steal in 2011 and was jailed 6 weeks. 
Yet, she stole again 3 months later and was jailed 9 months. Mind you, the amount stolen was not small. The items were worth $30k and $110k. 
Her recent offence was for theft and fraudulent possession and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday. 
Lesson? I do not have enough facts to comment on Goh's case. But in 2013, Dr Winslow testified at her hearing, saying that "if Goh was put in prison without therapies..., we are actually condemning her to a long term because we will be seeing her forever and ever again." 
Tragically, we won't. 
Lee Yin was found dead at the foot of a block of flats at Sengkang on Monday, a day before her court hearing. 
Even more tragic is that Lee Yin ironically took the one decision she finally had control over, that is, her own life.
It is reported that "40 people attended a 50-minute Christian service" at her funeral. Lee Yin left behind her husband and a 15-month-old daughter. 
Alas, it is arguable whether it was her uncontrollable impulses to steal or the society's lack of understanding of her condition that was the proximate cause of her death. 
Most likely, it's both. But let me digress a little and comment about our society at large.
We live in a largely tone-deaf society. It is tone deaf to the rallying cry of the minority, especially those whom we consider "abnormal" because they are not like us. 
Our default go-to mode for personal safety and security is that anything or anyone who is different from us is not normal. So, we pigeon hole them. It's our social rule of thumb.
It is like we have an exclusive club in our mind and entry is by membership only. If you are normal, you qualify. But if you should have some unfamiliar ticks or embarrassing quirks that we don't understand or don't have the time to understand, you are rejected outright from the mind club of the majority.
However magnanimous we project to the public, the discrimination, condescension and indignation are palpable and deeply felt by those who are struggling with grades, those who are ashamed of their mental disorder, those who are shunned by society because of their past, and those who are thinking of suicide due to the unspoken stigmatization.
An eight-year-old suffering from a behavioural disorder once wrote this: "Make me have a mum and dad that love me and start my horrid life AGAIN and not have so much sadness in my life." 
I think that's the same cry of the heart of those who yearn for society's understanding, care and help, but have sadly only received judgment, discrimination and abandonment. 
Thomas Jefferson once said that the care of human life and happiness is the only legitimate object of good government.
Let's hope that our society (and government) is kind enough to see beyond the differences and embrace each and every one of us regardless of our past, our stages of development, and our socioeconomic background. 
More importantly, let us all learn to see and nurture the hidden potential in a life, and not just judge a life at a moment's folly, or judge them for that which they are struggling real hard to avoid. 
Sometimes, for some people who are deemed "different" from us, they just need a little more understanding and patience from us to reintegrate and bloom. Treasure every life, and not just our own until we are blind to the beauty of the lives of others.
We should therefore shut down our exclusive mind club for good and keep an open mind to receive all without the labels, stigma or conditions. Cheerz.

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