Silence does things to you. During winter break, days could go by without having a real conversation with someone. Some days are harder than the rest. There are days I would get out of bed after the clock hits 12, where there was no urge to get dressed or do anything worthwhile in particular besides fulfilling the necessary basic needs. Other times, I would make deals with myself and find the motivation to complete something – a project, a sketch, a book. But without fail, every winter break, there will be days in which I’m completely absorbed in another world – usually depicted in books or TV shows.

I hate watching chick flicks, or comedies that have the plot thrown at your face for you to suck it up for that entire hour. It’s a good chunk of relaxation time wasted (Though I must admit, I spend time doing other non-constructive activities – it’s a matter of preference what I would rather waste time on). I hate horrific and psychologically twisted films for the simple fact that my post-film-imagination cannot stomach them. What I love, are thought-provoking, artistically crafted shows that reveal a bit about the society constructed by people. Scandal is one such show I recently fell in love with.

I started watching Scandal halfway into the semester, thinking I need a new TV show to be that narrative I could listen to destress, and escape from reality for 45 minutes. Things started slow at the beginning. There are two main parties – The White House and Olivia Pope and Associates (OPA). All of the characters are seemingly joint by the smallest coincidence or conflict of interest, but they are mostly connected with Olivia Pope. Every episode there is a client to serve, situations to fix, and someone to save. OPA puts on the white hat, tries to achieve justice the judicial system can’t, and minimizes casualties and damage. I could go on and on about the plot, but I shan’t, to spare you of boredom, and in case you find a liking to the show.

What I love about this show – oh gosh there are so many I don’t even know where to start. We would often associate politics with the words dry, rat race, ugly, dirty and so on. This TV series illustrates all of those things, but it also provides an alternative peek into a world so allusive we cannot even wrap our minds around. It puts a face on the term politicians, and shows us all the dilemmas and difficult decisions that have to be made. To have the greatest power of the country also means sacrificing your personal life, have your every action and facial expression scrutinized by the entire world. Foreign affairs, terrorism, homeland security, education, human rights and so on are all abstract concepts to us. But in the administration, real decisions have to be made and often, there are huge opportunity costs involved. Some political strategies can cause a domino effect, and result in a devastating chain of events that involve much higher power and authority than you imagined. One wrong move and your entire life could be in jeopardy. As much as one could try to be ahead of the game, the few steps one had leverage on could be overturned by other players in the field. At best, it’s a win-win situation. At worst, all parties could lose. Ironically, trust and gut instincts seem to play a huge role in the relationships. After all, politicians are humans. They have emotions, humanity and are fallible like the rest of us. The president does not always make the right decisions (persuaded/ not supported by his chief of staff and the rest of the advisors). There may not even be a “right decision”. Mistake or not, can only be witnessed by history. At the end of the day, there is some relief in knowing that among the asymmetric information and pursuit of personal interests, politics do result in some progress. Governments may frame narratives to protect secrets, but also protect us from ourselves. Narratives are created, by the media, by the government because uncertainty does not sleep well with us.

There are many conspiracy theories surrounding tragedies of MH370 and the recent AirAsia QZ8501. Among which, is the claim of using human hostages for negotiation – huge planes, and bodies do not disappear into thin air. My heart aches for the families who lost their loved ones. Upon knowledge that one victim is our Hwa Chong biology teacher, our whole school is united in grieving. Hopefully, time will heal and may the families find peace eventually. Perhaps, it’s better off not knowing because the truth may not be what we want to hear.

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