Apr 7, 2016

You belong to this country and this country belongs to you. What's that?

This is quite a popular slogan.

Singapore 2nd Prime Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong, 2002:
"You belong to Singapore and Singapore belongs to you.", 
Singapore 1st Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Toh Chin Chye, 1967: 
"Singapore belongs to you, and you should show you are proud to belong to Singapore."
Many politicians in many countries have been saying the same thing.

But are you sure you really understand that?

"Belong" has two very different meanings.

The first meaning: be the property of. For example, this car belongs to John, i.e., this car is the property of John.

The second meaning: be a member of, to be accepted and liked by other members of the group. For example, you belong to your family, i.e., you are a member of your family and your family members accept and like you as part of the family.

Does "you belong to this country" mean you are a property of the country?

Does "this country belongs to you" mean you have to accept and like this country?

What do you think politicians really mean?

Take your pick:

A) You are the property of this country and you have to accept and like this country.

B) This country is your property and you are accepted and liked by fellow citizens of this country.

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