Singapore - Chinese, Malay, Arab, Indian and European all call this city home.
The muezzin calls the faithful to prayer, down the road is a Hindu temple, a bit further a Buddhist one, and in the centre of the city is the Anglican cathedral. Our cities are perhaps the pinnacle of civilisation, but perhaps the measure of human success is the level of cooperation between people to be found in them.
Cooperation is a process by which the components of a system work together to achieve the global properties. In other words, individual components that appear to be "selfish" and independent work together to create a highly complex, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts system. Examples:
- The components in a cell work together to keep it living.
- Neurons create thought and consciousness, other cells work together and communicate to produce multicellular organisms.
- Organisms form food chains and ecosystems.
- People form families, tribes, cities and nations.
- Atoms cooperate in a simple way, by combining to make up molecules.
The underground announcement in many languages, with many people. Individuals, independent but cooperating together to make this highly complex city work. In some ways it mirrors a highly complex ecosystem where cooperation and diversity result in interdependence and stability.
What lies behind all this diversity is a complex history and regulatory framework, but it also takes people being willing to cooperate. A lesson not to be forgotten.
We surprised ourselves by enjoying Singapore: the relative calm of the Arab Quarter; the bedlam that was Little India during Deepavali; the seeming chaos of Chinatown; the crass consumerism of Marina Bay; and the somewhat surreal experience of cycling with thousands of others on Pulau Ubin.