Digitalisation and Privacy: Effects On Our Daily Lives

“I used to say that Google knows more about me than my wife does, but that doesn’t go far enough. Google knows me even better, because Google has perfect memory in a way that people don’t.” (qtd. in Mineo). 

The digital revolution is the fourth industrial revolution society is going through (Schwab). Since the internet is convenient and accessible, many users log onto the internet, therefore willingly and thoughtlessly giving away their personal information. During an interview with Gazette, Bruce Schneier, an advisor to IBM Security stated that “People need to own credit cards, carry cell phones, and have email addresses […]. That’s what it takes to be a fully functioning human being in the early 21st century.” (qtd. in Mineo). With the digital revolution comes the inevitable limitation to our personal privacy, which affects a human being’s daily life in many ways. The causes for this breach of privacy is that digitalisation allows governments to keep surveillance of its citizens, and it also allows companies to collect personal data of internet users through the use of online cookies. Another cause of this issue is that people are not educated about how to online safety and how their data is used. Personally, I think governments keeping surveillance of its residents is the most significant cause that impacts our daily lives. This is because people don’t have a say in whether the government keeps them under surveillance them or not, but the people can consent to accept online cookies. In her portfolio blog for her university, NUS, Paulina stated that “People feel like the internet gives then some anonymity, a false sense of security, therefore people are more cautious about revealing their private information in real life than online.” (Choo Cheng Mun). With the increase of internet users, more people are vulnerable to cyber attacks. With digitalisation, we risk our privacy, and the big debate online privacy continues on to this day. In this report, I will be talking about how the rapid growth of the internet and its subsequent limitations to our personal privacy affects our daily lives. Multiple people think that the internet’s effect on our personal privacy has a negative impact on our safety, while others think that it hinders the wellbeing of internet users. On the more positive side, some people think that the internet having access to our personal data helps to reveal signs of health concerns, while others think that the personal data collected can inform the government about possible threats to the society. 

With the rise of technology comes an inevitable invasion of our privacy. As we use the internet our data is being collected, we are always under constant surveillance by the internet (Schneier). This has a consequent negative impact on people’s safety. Everything we put on the internet stays there forever, therefore our information can get misused, making us unsafe. A woman in her early 20s got stalked through the internet and got killed, and thousands of people’s identities form online chat rooms are sold and traded (Sullivan). These are just some of the examples of how people’s safety get affected by the privacy breach due to the rapid growth of technology. A global perspective on this issue comes from Paulina, a student at NUS. She stated her opinions on internet privacy on her portfolio post for her university, stating that people put out large amounts of personal data on the internet such as their address, birthday, place of study or work (Choo Cheng Mun). This allows cybercriminals to easily find a new target by searching for them and stalking their internet information. This shows that our reckless actions, such as mindlessly putting information on the internet, leads to our safety being at risk. The purpose of Paulina writing this blog post is because it’s a part of her portfolio, which is a requirement for universities, so it’s very likely that the information she wrote is genuine and true. Since her portfolio post was written in 2011, the information she wrote could be outdated as it’s from 8 years ago, therefore making her blog unreliable. 

Another converse and national perspective on this issue is from the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Mr Lee wants Singaporeans to live in a “Smart Nation” (Jing En), a nation where the lampposts will be illuminating and surveilling the streets, leading to potential information on security threats (Chesterman). During a Ministerial Forum at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Mr Lee stated that “We want to make full use of the information we have in order to improve people’s lives, improve the way our society works, to make it a safer environment for everybody.” (qtd. in Chia). Mr Lee thinks that this breach of privacy will make Singapore safer as the government will be informed whenever there is a potential security threat in Singapore. This information was from two of the biggest news channels in Singapore, CNA and the Straits Times. These news channels are bound to have a bias because they were written by Singaporeans, but the information from these channels are true as these channels are well trusted, and also because it is very unlikely that they would break the law that Singapore has against fake news. Since these articles were written quite recently, the information form the articles are reliable and credible.

Another consequence of the internet’s invasion of privacy is the negative impact on our wellbeing. We are constantly living in fear, fear of being stalked, hacked, catfished, etc. A global perspective on this issue comes from an author, Richard Glenn, who thinks that human wellbeing is negatively impacted by the rise in technology and its subsequent impacts on privacy. Richard Glenn, stated that privacy causes oneself to distance from the community, and it causes one to become more secretive (qtd. in Coiffard-D’Amico). This shows how Richard Glenn believes that a breach of privacy due to technology makes one more secretive and less trusting, and it also makes one more alone as they would be distancing themselves from their community. This will cause the person to have trust issues, and if a problem arises they won’t be able to talk to anyone about it as they would have lost all connections with others. This information was sourced from a website which addresses multiple global issues. Since the journalists who write articles on this website are students, they are bound to know more about current events. Since these students are undergraduates, they don’t have any PhD’s, therefore the information on the website could be wrong, making this article less reliable. In comparison, both Richard’s and Paulina’s perspectives are pretty similar. They both talk about the negative impacts that technology has on us, and how the rise of technology and its subsequent breach on our privacy will lead to humans getting hurt. These two perspectives challenge Mr Lee’s perspective as he stated that this breach of privacy will keep Singapore’s residents out of harm’s way. The main reason why these perspectives are so different is because of the exposure these stakeholders have to information. Since Mr Lee has more access to information, he knows more about how the society works, therefore knowing more about how to protect the society and how to prevent any attacks. Since Paulina and Richard don’t have enough access to information, they wouldn’t know about any threats to a country, so they are simply just blindly making assumptions and forming an opinion. 

Technology’s limitations of privacy impacts our health in a positive way. In the 349th volume of the Science Magazine, Eric Horvitz, a director in the Microsoft Research Labs, wrote an article about how doctors can analyse streams of data from internet searches in order to reveal signals of health concerns (Horvitz). With the use of the data from the privacy breach of local residents, doctors will be able to analyse trends in the search history of the residents, therefore they will be able to infer whether of the residents are suffering from an illness. This is a local perspective since being able to detect signs of health concerns will allow doctors to treat the patients, therefore ensuring that the residents of a community are healthy. This will cause the community to be happier and it will also make the community closer. This information was sourced from an online magazine extract that was linked to Eric Horvitz’s website. Since the information was published in Science Magazine, which is meant to inform others about Science-related events, the information written in the magazine is bound to be true, and it is very unlikely that it is fake. Another reason why this source is reliable is that it was written by Eric Horvitz, who works in the Research Labs in Microsoft, therefore the topics he addressed in the article are the topics he is most familiar with. Like Mr Lee’s consequence, this consequence stated by Mr Horvitz is a positive one. It talks about how the data collected from the invasion of privacy due to the rise in technology can be beneficial and it can be put to good use. This will cause an overall positive impact on the community, unlike the consequences stated by Paulina and Richard. The other two consequences are very negative, and it highlights how the invasion of privacy due to the rise of technology has a negative impact on each individual. 

Most of our data is out of our control, therefore opting out of the internet won’t really help in this situation. We just have to be more aware of what we post on the internet, and what information we choose to put online (qtd. in Mineo). During his testimony over Facebook’s data sharing scandal, Mark Zuckerberg expressed that everyone should know how the information that they share on Facebook is going to be used. He stated that  “That’s why, every single time you go to share something on Facebook, whether it’s a photo in Facebook, or a message, every single time, there is a control right there about who you’re going to be sharing it with … and you can change that and control that in line.” (qtd. in Watson). In school, if teachers just spent 20 minutes every week teaching their students on how they can be safe online and what happened to the information that the students put on the internet, the students will be able to benefit from that, and they will know how to prevent negative consequences while using the internet. This is the most appropriate course of action as it will allow future generations to be safe, and it is the only course of action we can actually take. In this day and age, humans don’t have enough power to stop the government from keeping us under surveillance, and we don’t have enough power to stop companies from using online cookies, therefore the only step we can take at the moment are the small ones.

Before doing research for this report, I thought that the privacy breach due to a rise in technology has a negative impact on our daily lives. I thought so because I always heard stories of people’s identities being stolen, and people being stalked online due to the information they posted. Due to this I always thought that the internet is a dangerous place and its limitation to our privacy brings us harm. By doing the research, I got more exposure to the different consequences of this issue, and I realised that there are a lot of positive consequences to this issue. Now, I think that Mr Lee’s perspective on the consequences of this issue is the most significant. I think that the data collected due to the breach of our personal privacy can be used in a positive way that brings safety to all citizens of a nation. Like Mr Lee stated, the data collected by security cameras can be analysed to see any possible threats to a country or person, therefore bringing safety to the country and to all its citizens.

Works Cited

B.Riley, Thomas. “Internet Drives Privacy Debate.” Government Technology State & Local Articles – E.Republic, 31 Oct. 1998, www.govtech.com/magazines/gt/Internet-Drives-Privacy-Debate.html.

Byer, Brian. “Internet Users Worry About Online Privacy but Feel Powerless to Do Much About It.” Entrepreneur, 20 June 2018, www.entrepreneur.com/article/314524.

Casati, Gianfranco. “Singapore Could Lead the Way in Data Protection.” The Business Times, 10 May 2018, www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/singapore-could-lead-the-way-in-data-protection.

Chesterman, Simon. “Privacy and Our Digital Selves.” The Straits Times, 2 Sept. 2017, www.straitstimes.com/opinion/privacy-and-our-digital-selves.

Chia, Lianne. “Government Will ‘Progress Carefully’ in Collecting Information While Respecting Privacy: PM Lee.” CNA, 5 Apr. 2018, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/government-collect-information-respect-privacy-pm-lee-10108386.

Choo Cheng Mun, Paulina. “A Look into the Private Life of Awesomeness.” A Look into the Private Life of Awesomeness, 11 Nov. 2011, blog.nus.edu.sg/wesoawesome/2011/11/11/if-people-value-privacy-so-much-why-do-they-put-so-much-personal-information-on-their-facebook-pages-and-in-their-blogs/.

Coiffard-D’Amico, Selene. “Life, Privacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness: America’s Great Failure.” MIR, 25 Nov. 2018, www.mironline.ca/life-privacy-and-the-pursuit-of-happiness-americas-great-failure/.

Horvitz, Eric, and Deirdre Mulligan. “Data, Privacy, and the Greater Good.” Science Magazine, 9 June 2016, erichorvitz.com/data_privacy_greater_good.pdf.

Jing En, Tay. “Personal Data Protection Act Overview.” Personal Data Protection Act, 11 June 2018, www.pdpc.gov.sg/Legislation-and-Guidelines/Personal-Data-Protection-Act-Overview.

Kimball, Spencer. “Zuckerberg Backs Stronger Internet Privacy and Election Laws: ‘We Need a More Active Role for Governments’.” CNBC, CNBC, 31 Mar. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/03/30/mark-zuckerberg-calls-for-tighter-internet-regulations-we-need-a-more-active-role-for-governments.html.

Lapowsky, Issie. “Get Ready for a Privacy Law Showdown in 2019.” Wired, Conde Nast, 21 Dec. 2018, www.wired.com/story/privacy-law-showdown-congress-2019/.

Lohr, Steve. “Trump Completes Repeal of Online Privacy Protections From Obama Era.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/04/03/technology/trump-repeal-online-privacy-protections.html.

Mineo, Liz. “On Internet Privacy, Be Very Afraid.” Harvard Law Today, 25 Aug. 2017, today.law.harvard.edu/internet-privacy-afraid/.

Naylor, Brian. “Targeting Online Privacy, Congress Sets A New Tone With Big Tech.” NPR, NPR, 13 Mar. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/03/13/702619020/targeting-online-privacy-congress-sets-a-new-tone-with-big-tech.

Perez, Talia Klein. “Does National Security Outweigh the Right to Privacy?” Theperspective.com/, 16 Oct. 2017, www.theperspective.com/debates/living/national-security-outweigh-right-privacy/.

Schneier, Bruce. “Schneier on Security.” Blog, 10 Oct. 2018, www.schneier.com/news/archives/2018/10/a_future_where_every.html.

Stewart, Emily. “What Mark Zuckerberg Will Tell Congress about the Facebook Scandals.” Vox, Vox, 10 Apr. 2018, www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/4/9/17215640/mark-zuckerberg-congress-testimony-facebook.

Sullivan, Bob. “Is Privacy Dead?” Super Lawyers, www.superlawyers.com/united-states/article/is-privacy-dead/6cc4bf03-69c4-498f-952c-9b9efc4c0f4a.html.

Sullivan, Bob. “Online Privacy Fears Are Real.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Nov. 2000, www.nbcnews.com/id/3078835/t/online-privacy-fears-are-real/#.XM_UDpMzbOQ.

Sullivan, Bob. “Online Privacy Fears Are Real.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Nov. 2000, www.nbcnews.com/id/3078835/t/online-privacy-fears-are-real/#.XNl_EpMzbOS.

Watson, Chloe. “The Key Moments from Mark Zuckerberg’s Testimony to Congress.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2018, www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/11/mark-zuckerbergs-testimony-to-congress-the-key-moments.

Zickl, Danielle. “You Probably Trust Your Computer Way More Than You Trust Your Girlfriend.” Men’s Health, Men’s Health, 25 Feb. 2019, www.menshealth.com/trending-news/a19536759/people-trust-the-internet-more-than-who-they-are-dating/.

 

Service : End of Year Reflection

Format Gallery

Service has come to an end, and to be honest, I am very sad about that. The service I participated in this school year was Arts and Craft with PCF 858 Kindergarten. During this service, we would do fun activities, such as colouring, making masks, and making hats with the little kindergarteners. Our main aim as a service was to overcome cultural barriers and try to brighten up the day of the little kindergarteners. We really wanted to make their day better, and we wanted them to look forward to spending time with us. We definitely have achieved our aim as their teacher told us that the little children always looked forward to our activities, and she told us that they consider us as their older brothers and sisters. This shows how much we all have bonded with the little kindergarteners, and how much they have come to trust us.

Service was always the highlight of my week as I always enjoyed spending time with the little kids and hearing their laughter and seeing their smiles. Service was also the time where I got to relax and not have to think about any school work that stresses me out.

When I joined this service, I thought that I would hate it as I am not that fond of children, but over time I realised that spending time with these kindergarteners was like a mindfulness session, where my mind was just very relaxed. I used these service sessions as a time where I could freshen my mind and have a mini mind ‘detox’ where I get rid of negative vibes and stressful thoughts.

Through the service sessions, I became close with the little children, therefore I found it really hard to say goodbye to the kids during our last session. Despite the fact that I am going to see them next year when I continue to do this service, I will still miss them a lot, and I will miss the weekly Tuesday sessions that we had with them. I am really excited to spend more time with the little children next year!

Science Reflection (#FailWell)

I felt really disappointed when I got my science exam back. This is because I made really silly mistakes in the exam which could have easily been avoided during the exam if I wasn’t feeling so cocky and confident during the moment. After the exam, I felt like I did well during my exam, but my results state otherwise. I am pretty sure that this is the worst science test that I have taken in the whole grade 9 course, usually I ace the tests, or get 92% at the lowest, but in this test I only got 91.2%. A lot of people will say “oh you did so well”, well I think otherwise, I think that I did pretty bad and I could have done much better.

Two things that I have learnt about exam techniques, specifically science exams, is that the only thing that is actually needed for a science exam is the keyword. As long as you know the keyword, and you know how to phrase it into different sentences, you will be guaranteed full marks for the question. This was shown in the first question itself, I lost a mark because I didn’t state the keyword that was needed for the answer – the solution is more dilute than the leaf – instead I wrote – the solution has a higher water potential than the leaf – which didn’t give me the mark as I didn’t state the necessary keywords needed. The second thing that I have learnt about exam technique is that we always have to be accurate with our reading, there usually won’t be a range of different answers when the question asks for a reading. This was shown in question number 3, where I somehow managed to get the reading off by .1, even though the scale was right in front of me. I have made this same mistake in a few of my science tests, and I honestly don’t know why I keep getting the readings wrong, maybe I just need to focus and be more in the moment when taking exams.

As I stated in the previous paragraph, keywords are EVERYTHING in science, and I mean everything. The only way to get marks in science is by getting the correct keywords, even if you explained the question properly, you won’t get marks unless you have the specific keywords. In biology, if the question asks you about plant cells put in water (or something within those lines), then osmosis is guaranteed to be one of the keywords. A few other keywords for these types of questions will be – dilute/concentrated, water potential, down a water potential gradient, into the cell/out of the cell. For chemistry, if the question is talking about the rate of reaction then a few keywords will be – collisions, more/less frequent collisions, activation energy, successful collision. If the question is about physics and about things like force and acceleration, you should always remember that if the forces acting on an object are unbalanced, then the object will accelerate at a constant rate, it will not accelerate and an increasing rate.

3 specific mistakes that I have made which shows misunderstanding in 3 concepts are:

  1. (5a) I wrote that oxide is OH instead of O. This was a misunderstanding as I thought that a hydroxide and an oxide were both the same.
  2. (3dii) I wrote that since the values don’t go up by the same ratios, they are not directly proportional, but my misconception was that we need to use the evidence given to us, such as the table, and that we have to be more specific about how the data values show that it is not directly proportional. An ideal answer to this question would be the data values in the table show that the values for Power do not double as the values for Current doubles. My main misconception in this question is that I thought we didn’t have to be specific, so I made my answer very broad.
  3. (8biii) In this question, I wrote that a difference between boiling and evaporation is that boiling produces bubbles, while evaporation does not. For some reason, I thought that this would be a valid answer but turns out that this is not, and that my answer is incorrect. The correct answer, in this case, would be evaporation is only happens at the surface, while boiling happens throughout the liquid // evaporation produces cooling, while boiling does not, etc. My main misconception was that I thought that boiling producing bubbles and evaporation not producing bubbles would be a legit answer.

Looking forward, there are many things that I have to keep in mind. I always have to remember to focus on the exam and to stay in the moment so that I don’t make silly and unnecessary errors. Another thing that I should keep doing in the future is past paper questions. For this exam, I felt pretty well prepared, but I didn’t do as well as I expected, but in the future exams, I will do much better by practising even more with past papers.

 

 

 

 

Personal Statement

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”

– Nathaniel Hawthorne

The reality of the everlasting flow of time never fails to hit me. One day I will be sitting at home and suddenly I’ll just start thinking of how far I have come from a little toddler crawling on all fours to an almost fully grown adult who makes decisions by herself. The reality of how fast these 15 years of my life has flown by will always haunt me. I always look back on my memories and I still remember my first birthday party, how I had a big white cake with blue frosting, how I had a very carefree and stress-free life. Now that I am in high school, stress will always be a part of my life, I can’t escape it.

“Success is the result of perfection, hardwork, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistance.”

– Colin Powell

To all of you that don’t know me, I am Parvathy Sunil, a 9th grader who is really into K-pop. Through my grade 9 course, I have come to realise that I really strive for perfection, and it is a really unhealthy habit. I have noticed this when I get specific tests back, such as science and math, and I tend to get unhappy with my 7s. I realised that I am only happy when I ace the test, a 7 is just not good enough. This brings upon a lot of unnecessary stress upon me as a 7 is a 7, despite it being a high one or a low one. Due to my constant 7s, my perception is that my teachers expect a lot from me, and they have very high standards for me, bringing a lot of pressure upon me to do well.

Other than a perfectionist, another word that people use to describe me is narrow-minded. This is mainly due to my upbringing. Since I have lived in Singapore for almost all of my life, I am not someone who welcomes change, I am not that open-minded as of now. I have lived in my current house for the past 10 years, and I am not ready to move out when I am older, I don’t want things to change as I don’t like change. Due to this, I am the opposite of open-minded, I am somebody who is narrow-minded.

A goal is an aim or a desired target. When I was younger, I had very unrealistic goals for my future, such as become an actress or a singer. That was mainly because of all the fame that came with those jobs, but now after seeing the tedious lives of many K-pop stars, my goals have changed, and they are nowhere near being famous. When I am older, all I want is a well-paying job, such as an architect or a math professor at a good university,  that allows me to lead a content life full of success. Both of my current goals are very math related and this is mainly because math is my strongest subject, and I genuinely enjoy math. A few short term goals for myself are to do really well in my IGCSE exams and try to get a minimum of four 7s, and also, to get into NUS. The reason why I want to get into NUS because it is in my home, Singapore, so I won’t have to face any big changes when I change schools. Another reason why NUS, is because it is a really good university that is well recognised.

Personally, I think that these goals are right for me, even though they may seem a bit unrealistic. This is mainly because I am someone with very high standards, so I need my goals to be of high standards as well, and I need them to be challenging. I will achieve these goals firstly by revising my math and science units and doing very well on the tests we get. After that, the next step to getting closer to my goal would be to make sure I understand everything that I have learnt, and do practice and get really good scores on my IGCSE. After that, I will grind really hard in IB and keep practising and learning, then I will hopefully do good on my IB exams, then I will get into NUS and have a smooth transition to a well-paying job.

During this school year, I have done multiple activities and services, some of which have affected my perfectionist outlook on life. I did the service Knit-a-Square for the first two seasons of the school year, and in that service, we knit blankets and scarves for the orphaned children in Africa and Thailand. When knitting, you have to get each knit perfect so that the overall scarf/blanket looks good. This service that I did just made me more of a perfectionist as I had to make sure that the blanket I made is as perfect as it can be so that the little orphans who get the blankets will be very happy. There are two activities that I did in this year that really made me more a perfectionist – Karate and Badminton. In Karate, it is all about finding your focus and ensuring that all of your punches and kicks and katas are perfect. With this perfection or almost perfection, one will be able to take the grading and move on to the next belt. Badminton is somewhat similar to Karate as we have to ensure that every swing that we do with our racquet is perfect so that we will be able to beat our opponent. Perfection is key is both of these activities, therefore doing these activities makes me even more of a perfectionist, even though I enjoy these activities a lot.

Taking a step away from perfection, I have actually learnt a lot from all of the activities and school-related events that I have participated in. For my school trip, Ladakh, we had a training session pretty recently, and during the session I learnt that I will never always be in my comfort zone, there will be many times when I feel uncomfortable, but these moments will help me grow as a person, and it actually helps me to realise that I am living such a privileged life where I never really have to get out of my comfort zone. From the two services that I have done this year – Knit-a-Square; and PCF Arts and Crafts – I have learnt that I always need some time during the week where I can just release all my stress and not think of anything related to school. During Knit-a-Square, the knitting that we did always helped me to relieve stress. In my weekly service PCF, we did fun art and craft activities with little kindergarteners, and it was so healing to just see the smiles and hear the laughter of the preschoolers, and it was even more healing to know that the laughter and smiles were caused by us. This service just always made my week and it made me so much happier as I got spend time with the pre-schoolers and I didn’t have to think about any schoolwork that stresses me. From these two services, I have realised that I always need to find some time for myself when I just relax and not have to think about anything that stresses me out.

Something that has gone particularly well this year, and brought me closer to my goal, is my straight 7s, which mostly consist of aces, in both Math and Science. With my straight 7s, it brings about more pressure on me as others expect me to keep my 7 streak, and I tend to increase my standards for myself. At the moment, when I get a 7, it is never good enough, I need to ace the test to feel good about myself and to feel smart. This is not a healthy form of thinking, but it still brings me closer to my goal as this mindset will push me into studying and keeping up my good grades.

Reflection : Gender, Sexuality, Identity

Our previous PSE (Personal Social Education) unit was gender, sexuality and identity. Personally, I didn’t like this unit as it brought up a lot of anger in me and a lot of conflict in our class. I personally believe that there are only two genders, male and female. A lot of people say that sex and gender are different, but they are the exact same thing. There are two sexes, male and female, and there are two sexes, male and female. I do not understand how there are multiple genders, and how gender and sex are different. This may just seem like I’m being very close-minded, but I just fail to understand. If someone explained to me how they are different, with evidence, then I might be able to understand.

Another big thing that caused debates in our class is my statement: “you can’t change your gender.”

I personally don’t understand how one can change their gender. They can’t alter their DNA, they can’t change their genetics. Let’s say that a girl wants to become a guy, how can a doctor possible change their XX chromosomes to the XY chromosomes of a girl. SO when a person changes their gender, they are still the original gender they were, they are not fully the gender they want to be as you CANNOT alter your genetic chromosome just like that. I don’t have that much scientific knowledge on this topic, but this is just what I think.

Euthanasia: Playing God

Euthanasia, derived from the Greek word euthanatos meaning easy death (“Ethics – Euthanasia”), is when a doctor painlessly ends one’s life, as long as the patient and their family agree. The patient will usually be suffering from a terminal condition or an irreversible coma. Many people have different opinions on euthanasia, and their belief systems impact their perspective on euthanasia. In this essay, I will look into how our religious and ethical values determine whether it is morally acceptable for doctors, or the government to deny euthanasia for someone with a terminal condition. There are two forms of euthanasia, passive, when the doctor terminates the medication that keeps the patient alive, and active, when the doctor uses lethal substances to end the patient’s life (Nordqvist). People find passive euthanasia more ethical than active euthanasia, therefore passive euthanasia is legal in more countries than active euthanasia is, such as Finland, Germany, South Korea, and many more (“Legality of Euthanasia.”). The main controversy revolving around euthanasia is that it goes against the oath that doctors take, the Hippocratic Oath. The original oath states that: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.” (Nordqvist). Active euthanasia definitely goes against this oath, therefore the oath has been revised and modified to the current version: “If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.” (Nordqvist). Despite euthanasia being compatible with the current oath, many people still think that it is immoral to take one’s life, making euthanasia one of the most controversial topics that are being debated over. There are many stakeholders involved in the controversy that is euthanasia, the doctor, the patient, the family of the patient, the government, and many more. In this essay, I will be discussing the perspective of the doctor, a patient who got denied euthanasia, and a journalist for the Straits Times.

Chantal Sebire, a woman who was suffering from a rare form of cancer, esthesioneuroblastoma, had requested a court in Eastern France to allow doctors to help her terminate her life,  but her request was rejected. Siebre believed it was wrong for the government to deny her euthanasia, she said: “It is simply wrong that terminally ill people not just in France, but also in the UK, who are suffering unbearably are not being given the choice to die with dignity.” (“Health | France Rejects”). From her statement, I concluded that Chantal Sebire had a utilitarianism belief system as she wanted the best outcome for herself, which was to end her suffering, despite the procedure she would have to go through. Utilitarians want the best outcome from each situation, they care less about the actions they undergo and more about the end result. In Sebire’s case, undergoing euthanasia would have been the best outcome for herself, as she would end her suffering. This is the main reason why Sebire was very confident in her opinion, despite it going against the French government. Another reason why Sebire was very confident in her opinion on euthanasia is because France is an individualist region that promotes freedom of speech. Due to this, many people protest against certain issues, voicing their thoughts on them. Sebire might have been inspired by the many protestors, therefore voicing her opinion to the government, despite having a different opinion from the government. Clearly, Sebire’s perspective has impacted France at a national level as the French prime minister’s office conversed with Jean Leonetti, the French lawmaker, to remedy the French law of euthanasia (Schpoliansky, “Cancer Sufferer”) after Sebire pleaded for euthanasia.  The reason why the impact was more national than global was because many countries around the world have already changed their laws to accept euthanasia. The main consequence of having this perspective is that Sebire fails to realise that the procedure the patients undergo is morally incorrect as the physician is ending one’s life, putting guilt on themselves. Due to Sebire’s utilitarian perspective, she believed that she has the right to die as it had the best outcome for herself. She was very determined to find someone to help her die with dignity, “I now know how to get my hands on what I need, and if I don’t get it in France, I will get it elsewhere.” (“Health | France Rejects”). In the end, two days after Sebire’s denial of euthanasia from the government, she was found dead in her apartment. The cause of death was unknown, but it is confirmed to be an unnatural death.

A more of a national perspective on euthanasia is from Darius Lee, a journalist for the Straits Times. Lee believes that: “Laws against the killing of patients vindicate and uphold every person’s right to life, especially that of the terminally ill or vulnerable.” (Lee).  He also stated that “euthanasia is contrary to both the law and medical ethics, and should remain so.” (Lee), showing that he believes that it is moral for doctors and the government to deny euthanasia to a patient with a terminal condition as the denial will provide the patient with a ‘right to life’. From this, I concluded that he is a deontologist as he believes that it is moral to abide by the laws rather than break the laws. Deontologists believe that the actions people take are more important than the result, in this case, abiding by the law is the right thing to do. The main cause of Lee’s deontologist perspective may be because of the place he is from, Singapore. The laws in Singapore are very strict, and most Singaporeans abide by the law as the consequences are extreme if you break a law, such as penalty fines, imprisonment, and even the death penalty. Therefore, most Singaporeans don’t overlook the laws, they tend to just follow them, causing them to believe that the law is always right, and there is no doubting it. In Singapore, euthanasia is illegal. This may also be one of the influences on Lee’s attitude towards euthanasia. A few consequences of having this perspective is that Lee fails to realise that the act of “mercy killing” ends a patient’s and their loved one’s sufferings. A bigger, more national, consequence of having this perspective is that Lee and other Singaporeans like Lee will end up passing on the same mindset to their children, that euthanasia is wrong and that it is immoral. Once the laws in other countries and even the Singaporean euthanasia laws change, it will be hard for these generations to adapt with the change as they will be used to thinking that “euthanasia is immoral”. If you compare Darius Lee’s perspective on euthanasia to Chantal Sebire, you can see how different a deontologist and utilitarian thinks. As I stated earlier, Lee believes that euthanasia is wrong because it violates both the law and the medical ethics, and that it is moral for doctors to deny euthanasia to a terminally ill patient as it gives the patient a right to life. On the other hand, Sebire believed that it was immoral for a doctor to deny euthanasia to a patient with a terminal condition, as it would make the patient suffer.

My third and final stakeholder is a group of Muslim doctors from Pakistan. Like Lee, these doctors strongly believe that it is moral for doctors to deny euthanasia for a terminally ill patient. They believe that “only God should terminate their lives” (Afzal). The main reason why the doctors feel this way is because of their religion, Islam, which teaches that Allah is the only one who gives life and has the absolute authority of taking it (Ayuba, 6). Like Singapore, Islam has a lot of consequences for breaking its rules. It’s is stated in the Qur’an that, “The enormity of the sin on a person who deliberately terminates a life other than in the course of justice such as murder or spreading mischief in the land, is as if the whole people have been killed by him” (Qur’an 5:32 cited in Ayuba, 6), showing that the murderer, the doctor, would have a big burden on their shoulders if they proceeded with the act of euthanasia. The main reason why the group of doctors are very faithful to Islam is because the Pakistan government highly encourages its citizens to follow Islam. There is no real consequence of not being a Muslim in Pakistan, it is just highly encouraged by the people of Pakistan. The main consequence of having this perspective is that these Pakistani’s fail to realize that many people are suffering from terminal conditions, and they are being a burden to their loved ones. If they received euthanasia, then their sufferings would end, so would their loved ones’. A more national consequence of having this mindset is that, like Singapore, the younger generation will also end up having the mindset that it is moral for doctors to deny euthanasia to a terminally ill patient as euthanasia goes against their religion, Islam. When comparing these doctors’ perspective to Lee’s perspective, you can tell that the doctors and Lee have the same moral ethics as they believe that they should always follow a rule. In Lee’s case, it is the law, but in the doctor’s case, it is the Islamic rules. When comparing all three perspectives to one another, you can see that their upbringing has impacted the stakeholder’s belief systems and perspective. Sebire had a utilitarian point of view because she was raised in a country that allowed freedom of speech, while Lee and the doctors were raised in a country that has very strict laws that very strict beliefs, making them believe that following the rules and laws is always the right thing to do.

Personally, I believe that it is moral for a doctor to deny euthanasia for a patient with a terminal illness as I believe that the act of euthanasia is murder, despite the medical reasons behind it. The main reason why I have this perspective on euthanasia is because of my deontologist belief system. Like Lee, I believe that our actions matter more than the consequences, abiding the law and doing moral things are more valued than a good outcome. A factor that has influenced me having this belief system is because of the way I am brought up. My parents always told me that the grade I get for a test doesn’t matter as much as the effort I put into my studies. This has made me believe that the actions we take have more of a value than the consequences we face because of the action. Another reason why I have a deontologist belief system is, like Lee, the place where I am brought up, Singapore. As I stated above, the consequences go as far as the death penalty for breaking certain laws in Singapore, causing us, the residents of Singapore to willingly abide by the law and believe that the law is always right. After reading Sebire’s story, my opinion of euthanasia is not as strong as it was, I believe that under some circumstances it is okay for doctors to provide euthanasia, as long as the patient and their family are truly suffering. This is because I believe that nobody should do something against their will. If living is against a terminal patient’s will, then the patient and their family will be suffering a lot, so euthanasia will be the right action to take in this situation. As time passes, the controversy on euthanasia will continue to grow, and so will our perspective on these controversial issues.

Works Cited

  1. Ayuba Mahmud Adesina. “Euthanasia : A Muslim’s Perspective.” Scriptura: International Journal of Bible, Religion and Theology in Southern Africa, no. 1, 2016, p. 1. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7833/115-0-1175.
  2. “Ethics – Euthanasia: Ethics of Euthanasia – Introduction.” BBC, BBC, 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/overview/introduction.shtml.
  3. “Health | France Rejects Right-to-Die Plea.” BBC News, BBC, 17 Mar. 2008, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7301566.stm.
  4. Lee, Darius. “Euthanasia Contrary to Medical Ethics.” The Straits Times, 21 Nov. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/euthanasia-contrary-to-medical-ethic
  5. “Legality of Euthanasia.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_euthanasia.
  6. Muhammad Nasir Afzal, Rabia Latif, Tahir Ahmad Munir. “Attitude of Pakistani Doctors Towards Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.” Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Journal (Rawalpindi, Pakistan), no. 1, 31 Mar. 2010. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=edsnbk&AN=13FF6CB02A50E6A8&site=eds-live&custid=s5027800.
  7. Nordqvist, Christian. “Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: What Are They and What Do They Mean?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 17 Dec. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182951.php.
  8. Osborn, Andrew, and Sarah Boseley. “Dutch Pass Euthanasia Bill.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2001, www.theguardian.com/world/2001/apr/11/andrewosborn.sarahboseley.
  9. “Religions – Christianity: Euthanasia.” BBC, BBC, 3 Aug. 2009, www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/christianethics/euthanasia_1.shtml.
  10. Schpoliansky, Christophe. “Cancer Sufferer Who Begged for Death Found Dead.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 19 Mar. 2008, abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4484359&page=1.
  11. Schpoliansky, Christophe. “French Woman’s Euthanasia Request Denied.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 18 Mar. 2008, abcnews.go.com/Health/International/story?id=4468663&page=1.
  12. Tran, Can. “Death of French Woman With Rare Cancer Was Not By Natural Causes.” Press Release – Digital Journal, 22 Mar. 2008, www.digitaljournal.com/article/252024.
  13. “Woman with Disfiguring Cancer Dies, Euthanasia Debate Lives.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 20 Mar. 2008, usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-19-cancer-euthanasia_N.htm.

 

Played by Luck : A Tsunami Survivor’s Story

On the  26th of December 2004, one of the world’s most destructive tsunamis, the Indian Ocean Tsunami, struck.  Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives during this tragic event, but Cameron Hunter and his family were one of the few lucky survivors.

14 years ago, Cameron Hunter, a current middle school vice principal at UWCSEA East, went to celebrate Christmas with his family of four at Bang Tao Bay in Phuket. The day after Christmas, Mr Hunter’s two young children, Kyle and Callum, woke him up early to go play on the beach, which was empty compared to the day before.

“I was planning to go windsurfing at 9:30 am,” Mr Hunter recalled. He was waiting impatiently at the beach while his kids and wife were playing with the sand. After a while, the person who rents out the surfboard did not come to the beach, and Mr Hunter stated that “In retrospect, was really good, and I probably wouldn’t be here if he came.”

Something is wrong

“The water receded quite fast at around 9:30 am.” Mr Hunter recalled. Mistaking it for the low tide, he and his family ran out into the sea with their buckets, marveling at the starfish on the exposed seabed.

They went out into the sea, meeting the water. “At this point, I knew something was wrong, as the water wasn’t  not ebbing and flowing, the water was frothing.” Mr Hunter recalled. The rest of his family were scattered around the sea, so he decided to go back to the shore with his family. He was fortunate to have noticed the frothing water as a dangerous sign. Because of this, he managed to get his family together before the tsunami hit.

“Almost as soon as I decided ‘let’s get back’, the water just went up like that, up to your neck height, but it wasn’t a massive wall of water, and that is why I think we were lucky. We were lucky because we were in a protected bay.” Everything that Mr Hunter did on that day was ultimately full of luck, such as not going windsurfing, and noticing that the water was frothing. These actions built onto one another, making this a luck-filled day for Mr Hunter, despite the fact that he and his family were struck by a tsunami.

“Everyone is screaming, and we are now being pushed into shore,” Mr Hunter stated. “We were swimming in with one hand holding the child, and it’s a long way.” Mr Hunter’s wife gave both of their children to him, so Mr Hunter was struggling to swim to shore while both his toddlers were clinging onto to each of his arms. “It’s really panicky, but still I was like, ‘yeah it’s going to be okay, it’s just a big wave.’” This is because the reality of the wave didn’t hit him yet, allowing him to remain calm.

Just Like the Movies

They got onto the shore with the help of the man who rents out the surfboard, and they ran for their lives, as fast as they could to their hotel. Mr Hunter and his family were played by luck a second time that day as their hotel was on a hill. Even though the hotel got flooded, it wasn’t devastated like the beach huts.

“The massive wave came in, and it came in huge. We were now on a balcony and it was like watching a movie. We were watching this massive wave come in and destroy everything on the beach.’” Mr Hunter remembered, talking about the devastation the tsunami caused.

Toying with Luck

“We were very lucky again, many, many, many lucky things,” Mr Hunter concluded as he tells us his tsunami story. They were very lucky geographically as the water had a long way to travel from the epicenter to Bang Tao Bay, therefore the force of the wave won’t be that strong when it hits the Bay as the wave hits many islands on the way to the bay.

“We were just looking at each other, thinking, ‘wow, how lucky were we’.” Mr Hunter recalled thinking while watching the devastation around him. All the events of that one day shows that Mr Hunter and his family were toying with luck.

Aftermath

Afterwards, the survivors were evacuated into higher ground where someone managed to get a wifi signal. “It’s a bit like a refugee camp […] people sick, broken arms, things like that, and you realise ‘oh this is really serious, people have died here.’” Mr Hunter and the rest of the survivors found out that an earthquake happened at 5:30 in the morning, but Mr Hunter doesn’t recall feeling the earthquake, despite the it being a massive one. This natural disaster affected millions of people all across Asia.

That night, the survivors were taken back to the hotel to get a night’s rest. Fortunately, Mr Hunter’s room was on the second floor, so neither his room nor his items got ruined.

The next day Mr Hunter was awoken early by his toddlers once again. He took them to the pool to find out that a lot of people were still at the poolside, despite a massive tsunami just happening the day before.

“It’s a bit strange,” Mr Hunter explained, describing the emotions he felt when people who marvelled over the fact that he and his family survived. He remembers an Australian man who walked up to him and told him, “Were you the family that was out? Were you the family that was in the wave? Someone was looking out for you.”

Someone was definitely looking out for Mr Hunter and his family, making sure that the family of four had all the luck possible, just for that one day. Having no belief in any higher power, Mr Hunter was truly fortunate to have luck on his side.

Works Cited

Bank, Asian Development. “Damage from the Asian Tsunami of 26 December 2004.” Flickr, Yahoo!, 24 Dec. 2014, www.flickr.com/photos/asiandevelopmentbank/15906703969/in/photostream/.

NYAA Healthy Living (January + February)

During the months of January and February, I did an average of 6 hours of ballet each month. During these months, I mainly focused on my flexibility and learning the dances and perfecting them.

In the month of January, I asked my ballet friends, and my teachers how I could improve my dances and how to do specific steps. This is because I wanted to learn the ballet pieces, which I managed to do by the end of February. The reason why I wanted to learn all of these ballet pieces despite not doing the grade 6 ballet exam is because I want to still get exercise, and also because I want to keep doing ballet as I really enjoy ballet.

I also worked on my flexibility in order to be able to raise my leg higher during certain dances such as adage and grand battement. This will make my dances look more graceful and tidy. In order to get my right splits down, I practiced my splits during every ballet lesson. Right now, I am able to do the right splits, but in order to keep my flexibility and get my left splits down, I need to practice my splits more often, maybe once in two or three days.

My goal for March and April is to perfect the dances and be very confident when I am performing them. I will gain this confidence and perfecting by trying extra hard during my lessons, and checking the steps with my teacher and my ballet friends.