Tuesday, 18 June 2013

With great power...

[Edited/Amended, May 2018]

Spiderman's uncle told him: "With Great Power, comes Great Responsibility". A car, a van, a lorry, any motor vehicle - even e-scooters and other Personal Mobility Devices - is a very powerful machine. When you have control of these machines, you should also have great responsibilities.

However in Singapore, the Road Safety Council tells you: with great personal risk and vulnerability, comes great personal responsibility. So it is risky to ride a bike in Singapore - be responsible.  It is risky to ride a motor-cycle - be responsible. For your own safety.

It is a very very sad indictment of our selfish nature, our self-centred society.

In Singapore, we also believe that with great power, comes great rewards... and a different set of rules.

Singaporeans love their cars because owning one is the one way where anyone can be "privileged" - have great power, but without the great responsibility.

They expect pedestrians to give way to them ("I pay road tax, ok!"). And cyclists too.

And I know of cyclists who barrel down the pathway ringing their bells and expecting pedestrians to scatter out of their way. With great power comes great privilege! "Get out of my way, you foot shufflers!"

And later maybe, they (the cyclists) are bullied on the road by drivers: "Get out of my way, you pedalling ponces!"

Shouldn't this be anathema to us Singaporeans? Shouldn't we be AGAINST corruption?

"Oi! Oi! Oi! You talk until go where? What corruption, lah! You talking about driving, why suddenly make this sudden left turn into corruption? You talking cock lah!"

Hear me out.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. Owning and driving a car is a privilege. Drivers drive as if to say, "my TIME is more precious than YOUR LIFE". And "I paid for the privilege to DRIVE on the road. Did you, pedestrian and cyclists?"

Just as a corrupt person might say, "I paid the bribes, the laws don't apply to me."

Driving selfishly, irresponsibly may not legally be corruption, but it reflects a corrupted mindset.

Drivers have a responsibility to the vulnerable. The norm in SG is that those who have the most to lose, have the most responsibility. That is a harsh and heartless approach to life. And it makes life in SG that much less gracious. 

The converse is, those with power have the most responsibility and the most accountability. If that is what you DEMAND of the govt, then is that what you practice on the road? Or do you have a different standard for yourself?

I would like to see more "Spiderman" drivers (and cyclists! and PMD users!) in Singapore. Drivers who recognise that with great power comes great responsibility. There are drivers like that. They are patient. They "share" the road. They realise that one moment of impatience could cost another person their life, or cause them pain and suffering. And they understand that with great power, comes great responsibility.

So if you read this and some time later you slow down, and pay attention to the vulnerable, and was patient with another road user, and you repeat to yourself, "With great power comes great responsibility", and maybe your kid asks you, "Daddy (or Mommy), why you never HORN that cyclist/pedestrian!" You can tell your kid, "'Cos I'm Spiderman!"

(Or maybe you can explain that with Great Power comes Great Responsibility, and the next generation of Singaporeans will be a little more gracious, and the Singapore 2B will be that much nicer.)

[While this post is focused mainly on motor vehicle users/drivers, in recent times there have been more "accidents" involving PMDs. It also applies to them. ]

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