Written while Drunk on Thoughts

18 Jan 2014

Tangibles and Intangibles

First of all, I want to thank my Handsome for encouraging me to write this post. I had been putting it off because it would mean I am disagreeing someone I admire.

Community recovery from conflict through music: Ruha Devanesan at TEDxMontreal

Which is more important? Few months ago, I met a someone that works for a non-profit organisation, my very first I would say. It is not very common for someone from my old environment to be working in a non-profit organisation. Through our brief conversation, I learnt that she helps and educate aspiring artists (mainly music makers) to better protect their intellectual property. The other way of putting it is not to let huge music producing companies take advantage of aspiring artists.

Imagine you are part of a band that had been making music but is waiting for an opportunity to have a breakthrough or for someone to appreciate what you produced and would support you on your road to producing something even more amazing. But, as everyone know in this world of money, I dare say ABSOLUTELY everything boils down to money. Its unfortunately sad but very true. So I admire what she did and is doing to preserve that pure intention of making music, be it to inspire, to entertain or in the case of this talk - HEAL.

So when I was shown this video clip, I admire her way of presentation - calm, confident. But I personally do not agree on her belief.

To summarise what she is talking about, its about recovering after a conflict, be it natural or man-made (war) and how the money aid given by charities were put to use. Half the money were used for immediate relief aid (food, clothes and shelter) and half the money were used to rebuild public infrastructure and no money were used for social / cultural infrastructure.

This is what she does, she helps inspiring artists fight for their rights, well-being and resources. 

In an ideal world, everyone would have enough to survive and will work as whatever they want. Be it an artist, writer, even lawyer, doctor, scientist. But the world is not ideal, its not even near to it and it won't be. Risking my new more positive self, I onced heard this from a 19 year old boy - "When there is a will, there is not always a way, its life." He is a wise one, he acknowledged that young. 

I agree on what she does and said in this presentation. Art suffered from bad quality because of the lack of resources. I know there are a lot of people that will agree with her and think art (music, painting, writing) should have been given more credit, But if you think about it, if all the necessities are not satisfied, will art suffer? I dare say art might be the furthest from what people suffering from hunger are thinking about. 

Even though this is not always the case, in my opinion these thinking are attribute to the upbringing of people. I have groups of friends who are really different. I have friends in Malaysia that never think twice about having a career in what they are passionate about, or rather, my friends and I would pick a career path based on how much we might earn in the foreseeable future. Its not our TRUE passion. 

While I have friends that take into consideration of the amount of money they would make in the future, I have a different group of friends where PASSION is what they took consideration into and most of the time, they do not have the luxury to enjoy the luxurious, to say the least, on bad weeks or months, even basic necessities suffer.

Why is that so? Upbringing and passion plays a huge role. I was often asked what I do (will be doing) for a living and when I say finance, people here (Europe) always ask WHY while people back home (Malaysia) said GOOD. Even though I like Economics and Finance, my passion lies in writing. If that is the one thing I am going to do if I don't have to worry about money, that is what I will do, write. 

It really is down to whether are tangibles or intangibles more important to you. For my fellow Malaysians, its the tangibles - because most of us grew up longing for things we can't have (luxurious items - bags, clothes, holiday abroad), so once we can afford it, we won't hesitate. There is also a social convention that measure the well-being or happiness of people by how much / many they own. I was one of them until I met people that have less than I do but happier than I am. 

I used to measure the potential of my other half by how much they WILL earn in the future, to an extent that I once told a former partner that I can't accept it if he earns less than me. *I don't mean that, I was stupid.* Now I am more interested in what can both of us do together to make life better. IDEALLY, I would marry someone already rich, but that shouldn't be a prerequisite. 

So what is all these has to do with what she said in the clip? She grew up in a much privileged situation than most of us. Our parents went through hardship (not to say her parents didn't, they escaped a war), most of our parents are at best high school educated. My friend's grandmother went to university during the 40s. We are the first generation which most of us went / go to university and we wanted to. 

This is how human progress:
1. Necessities
2. Necessities + Luxuries
3. Necessities + Luxuries + Emotions

We Malaysians are still at stage 2. Majority of my European friends are at stage 3, but of course not all elements can be satisfy and more weight are put in some elements than others. I never really care about my feelings until I spent more time with my former roommate, I used to think she is so emotional. I am not entirely sure whether the feelings surge were because I grew up and had experienced more heart breaking matters or I had learn to take into account my feelings in everything. 

I would like to know what are your thoughts on this. Do you think tangible triumph over intangible or vice versa? 

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