Coronavirus Updates

I have a dream (that even a circuit breaker can’t stop)

by Gabriel Ong // April 3, 2020, 9:36 pm

National announcement covid -2

There’s more bad news and cause for concern, if today’s ministerial address and press conference were anything to go by. I’ll sum it up for you since I watched it.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it clearly and plainly in his address to the nation this afternoon: “Looking at the trend, I am worried that unless we take further steps, things will get gradually worse or another big cluster may push things over the edge.”

He announced first that the Government would make a “decisive move now to pre-empt escalating infections,” which meant imposing “significantly stricter measures”. 

Then, more news about a “circuit breaker” – a strategic move to lower the risk of a major outbreak and to bring the number of transmissions down.

I sound pretty deadpan by nature, so my writing may come across as unfeeling at times. That’s why I want to be clear that today’s speeches were anything but – they were remarkably moving.

My co-worker even shared that her mother teared up when she heard the Malay version of PM Lee’s address.

Hear the earnest way PM Lee appealed to the public, listen to the steely grit in Gan Kim Yong’s voice, remember how Lawrence Wong teared up as he appreciated the healthcare workers in Parliament.

Image source: Channel NewsAsia

It’s made me realise two things: Our leaders love Singapore – and I love my land too.

So for all the bad news we’ve been reading, and the anxiety and pessimism in the country, I want something different for a change – I want to dream again (and this from a pessimist!).

Christian or not, we can agree that there is a wave of disruption sweeping through the world – and I don’t mean COVID-19, but the cultures and contexts it has changed!

So welcome to my TED Talk, where I get to dream of all the good that could possibly come out of this crisis.

4 WAYS WE CAN EMERGE STRONGER

1. Families will flourish

The irony of social distancing? The closer proximity families have been forced into.

But consider the pleasant possibility that families are relearning this whole family thing. Home isn’t a hotel anymore (funny enough in this topsy-turvy time, hotels have become temporary homes). Point is, we actually spend time together. We actually talk to one another.

Dynamics, traditions and cultures are being remoulded and shifting. We’ve united as a household and will survive this as a household (and someday thrive again!).

We realise that the extended time at home could also be bad for dysfunctional families, so let’s not forget those who are struggling. Reach out and pray for them! Support those who are working tirelessly in social services to offer help. 

As a Christian, I choose to believe God can do something in our families. I won’t surrender to the pessimism of fraying relations and the inevitability of irritation.

This is a divine disruption, and I am on board.

CHEEKY BONUS: With so much time on our hands and such little space… We might even see fruitful things like a baby boom this year end or in January!

2. New ways to work

Do you realise we’re living in one of the greatest social experiments of all time?

Clickbait, but it’s true. Never before have so many people worked from home, studied from home and spent time together online. 

Just last year, mentioning your working arrangements are “flexible” would have got you some weird looks, as if you were one of those folks living in Bali, surfing in the morning and working in some woke eco-cafe shared space in the afternoon. 

Now it’s actually the norm. That’s wild to think about!

Finding it hard to stay home? 5 tips for positive mental health while social distancing

Where I work at, it’s actually improved productivity by a mile. It’s interesting to think about how our bosses will look at work-from-home (WFH) arrangements when COVID-19 eventually blows over because there are a whole bunch of benefits to dream about. 

Think about the greater flexibility for one. This ties in to my point on families flourishing. If more people began working offsite, more parents would have more time for their children and family.

Home life would be dramatically, wildly different from the 9-6 humdrum we’re used to having. And even if we have to return to our workplaces physically, it’s nice to know WFH arrangements are something that’s on the table now.

Minister Ong Ye Kung had a really peculiar line at the end of his update in the press conference: “Stay safe, stay home, stay curious.”

He was addressing students, but I will do those three things too, Mr Ong – especially stay curious.

I’m excited to see what good will come out of this radical shift in how we think about work and workplaces!

3. Churches come online

So many of our churches were still stuck in the stone age just 3 months ago. For real.

Digitally speaking, COVID-19 has accelerated churches’ growth on the online frontier exponentially.

Think about that. This wave of disruption sweeping across the kingdom right now is unprecedented in our lifetime.

NCCS letter to the Church: A time of adversity, a time of opportunity

Look at what it’s done to the Church. Look how the Church has adapted. Look how the Church is rising up to serve one another.

The doors may be closed, but God is doing something incredible in this unique time for Singapore’s Church.

God is tilling the soil, uprooting old rubbish, planting new dreams – and we need to be a part of it!

4. Small groups succeeding

Today, the very manner in which we do Church and fellowship are being challenged. And in this season, small groups work.

And though the means are bad, I don’t think the end has to be.

As our methods, customs and norms are challenged and seemingly eroded with the implementation of every subsequent precautionary measure – we’re finding out what’s really left at the end.

So I hope it’s things like the Gospel. I hope it’s genuine fellowship – the simple love of the saints and love for our neighbours. I hope we would have succeeded in the things that matter.

My dream for small groups is to realise that we’re in one that actually works – that we’re sharing life together, not just running programmes or attending things together.

These are just four dreams of mine. You might have more – but you still can’t beat God.

He loves Singapore, and He is still working in the land. We must open our eyes to see it. 

So I will say to God: “How awesome are your deeds!” I will tell the world: “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!”

We get to decide if we will passively watch a wave go by and make absolutely no impact on the world we’re in – or step up onto the surfboard in a storm. 

Surf’s up. Let’s follow God. We can come out of this better and stronger.

THINK + TALK

  1. Do you see this as a divine disruption? Why?
  2. What are your own dreams? What do you hope to see emerge from this crisis?
  3. What role can you play in making that happen?
About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.