Welcome to this week's issue of the Birthday Workbook! Today, we read an essay by Martin Tan, Executive Director of the Majurity Trust, from this year's edition of the Birthday Book. If you haven't gotten a copy, you can do so here. In his piece, Martin reflects on how Singapore's past experiences of adversity can inform our response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Before you read his essay, watch the following video:
Now consider the following questions:
How is a crisis like the Hotel New World collapse similar to and different from COVID-19?
How might you categorise the kinds of challenges and tragedies faced by a nation over time (e.g. social versus economic/expected versus unanticipated)?
According to Martin, what is the role of (a) individuals; (b) businesses; and (c) the government in a crisis?
Why might a policy that seems like ‘common sense’ in hindsight appear ‘groundbreaking’ at a particular point in time?
Martin claims that 2020 will be ‘talked about for generations to come’. Based on your own experiences, what do you think future generations might say about this year?
Throughout the essay, Martin uses a number of specific details which help the reader visualise what he is saying. Some writers call these details ‘telling details’. Identify the ’telling details’ and briefly explain how they enhance his writing.
According to Martin, what is the value of looking back at history? Can you think of other lessons which history might offer?
What challenges have you experienced in your own life? How will these experiences shape the way you manage future challenges?
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