Don’t point fingers, use them to pick up after ourselves

February 11, 2015

IN THE past two weeks, the media has given the issue of littering much attention. Many are agitated, from government leaders to ordinary citizens, and not all are in agreement about the root causes or the solutions.

However, if there is one thing we all agree on, it is that nobody wants a dirty, trash-filled Singapore. Not Singaporeans – we are known to be house-proud and for meticulously keeping our homes clean. And not new migrants nor guest workers – it is our clean and organised city that attracted many of them here in the first place.

To put it positively: We all want to live in a clean, green, hygienic, pleasant and gracious environment – a gracious society we can proudly call “our home”.

Beyond the normal reporting and government commentaries, I am heartened to see many individuals writing in to the Forum pages, posting comments online and calling in on radio-talk shows.

The flurry of commentaries is very gratifying, for it tells me that we are not an indifferent lot and that we are taking some ownership of the problem. In effect, we are brainstorming to make us not just house-proud but nation-proud.

Even more so, I am inspired by individuals who go out there and do something about it.

Ground-up movements (GUMs) with a passion for keeping Singapore clean include The Glove Project, Youth For Ecology and Blossom World. Other GUMs have more generic causes but also occasionally do clean-up activities or educational engagements.

There are also individuals like Ms Elisa Ng, who picks up litter wherever she sees it (“Littering punishment under review”; Oct 27, 2013). Among our foreign and expat community, the Japanese environmental group Green Bird regularly volunteers for weekend clean-ups (“Japanese expats volunteer to clean up parks, streets”; Sept 14, 2013).

Some have asked: Why should the Singapore Kindness Movement be concerned about this? It’s simple: Our environment and our physical surroundings reflect our graciousness – to ourselves and to one another.

In pursuit of a kinder and more gracious society, I call on everyone who lives and works here to recognise that we are the source of the problem. Instead of using our fingers to point at one another, why don’t we glove and use them to graciously pick up after ourselves instead? If we start binning our own litter, picking up litter, and encouraging others to do so, we can keep Singapore clean.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in The Straits Times – February 11, 2015

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