“Asia’s Challenge 2020”
What is the most important challenge facing Asia over the next decade? Why? What should be done about it?
Unhealthy development: a lack of values education and personal generosity
Do we really have enough will to come together and cope with challenges? Let us have a look at this metaphor of our body which consists of trillions of cells. “A main purpose of a cell is to organize. Cells hold a variety of pieces and each cell has a different set of functions.” Some are processing food into energy and transport to feed other cells; brain cells are transmitting electrical signals to send messages; muscular cells are for movement; some killer cells combat bacteria; others regenerate new tissues around wounded area, and so on. Our cells work together to keep our body system alive. Have we learnt the lesson from the cells? As Asian citizens or citizens of the world, have we been cooperative enough to tackle our regional or global challenges? Are some people willing to get slightly down, from their wealthy life styles, to being unselfish and cooperative? Have the less fortunate been provided opportunities so that they are capable of taking part in cooperation? This article is addressing four issues – materialism and consumerism, gender inequity, traffic accident and governance all of which are caused by a lack of intrinsic values, leading to a more imbalanced and unhealthy development. Values education and personal change are empathized as the vital factors for a sustainable development. First of all, let us explore about materialism and consumerism in Asia and the impacts they bring about. Korea and China, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released in February, topped the poll at 69% for being the most materialistic people in the world. The figure followed by India 67% and Japan 63% while the world average is 43% (Chosun Ilbo News, 24 February 2010). Corin (2009) said “Hong Kong is a very materialistic city... it's a challenge to keep yourself grounded and to not get caught up in wanting to compete with others for the most expensive things.” In Singapore, people are also known for a tendency to possess the 5 Cs – cash, car, credit card, condominium, and country club membership. Seah Chiang Nee (2007) wrote Singaporean are among the world’s best educated, yet they are also among the most materialistic people. Due to such issue, the following are challenges that Asia faces and is going to be facing in the next decade, and more, if counter measures is not there. Human enjoys; earth suffers; human suffers...
“As Consumerism Spreads, Earth Suffers, Study Says,” a title from the National Geographic News (2004), described that nearly half of the global consumers resides in developing countries, including 240 millions in China and 120 million in India, and it was expected that the number was going to expand. Although rising consumption has created employment and enriched economy, it tends to disrupt the natural resources and ecosystem (Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute, quoted in the news). “The production, processing, and consumption, of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water); ... whose operation creates toxic byproducts, while the use of commodities themselves (e.g. automobiles) creates pollutants and waste” (Anup Shah 2008). Furthermore, consumerism and its consequent power take away potential resources that poverty-stricken people could otherwise be accessible. “The wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest 20% consume just 1.5%” (World Bank Development Indicator 2008). “The more people pursue their material goals, the less they are happy, the lower their quality of life,” said Tim Kasser (2007), an associate professor of Psychology. He also found that they report being depressed and anxious, and they tend to behave in a manner that is...