It used to be about the paper chase. Grades at PSLE, ‘O’ Levels, ‘A’ Levels, and the GPA you were getting out of classes in the university. But as I grew up, I realised that there was more to this obsession with grades – it wasn’t just about competing with your friend on who got the A+ or the Dean’s list, it wasn’t just about acquiring more knowledge to make better sense of the world around us, it wasn’t just about graduating valedictorian so you could have your 15 minutes of fame before the entire school.
There was a different kind of education going on, a more insidious kind, conditioning us to be competitive, to be selfish, to have more than the person next to you. And at the core of all this was money. Money, money, money. The more the better. The easier the merrier.
And what do we do with all this money? We spend it on ourselves, of course! To purchase status symbols, to eat at the better restaurant, to go on more and more luxurious holidays – so we can show our friends, family and peers that “I am better than you“. That is how our world today defines success. A never-ending comparison of me versus them. And then, we die.
And nothing goes with us.