Graciousness fundamental to building a quality society

April 03, 2013

In his commentary, “The growth of a quality society” (March 28), Mr Devadas Krishnadas made some cogent arguments for sustaining quality growth over time by finding ways to grow the quality of our society.

His point that the “greater share of (this) effort … must be made by ourselves, not the Government” resonates with the Singapore Kindness Movement. We contend that graciousness is a fundamental and desirable value that contributes to a quality society.

The stresses faced by Singaporeans have long been debated upon and acknowledged by citizens and the authorities. Some choose to justify Singaporeans’ seeming lack of social graces as the natural consequence.

Such an attitude, however, is defeatist at best and serves no real purpose in reversing the perception. Our view is that a quality society is shaped by the way its people share and interact with one another.

The element of building and maintaining positive relationships is a powerful key to fostering a liveable environment. The degree of liveability is also a measure of a quality society.

Perhaps it is time to consider how we can make choices that would transform our environment into a desirable place to live in. A good starting point is to examine how we behave in public and online spaces, where we meaningfully engage one another.

A civil conversation that is characterised by graciousness is analogous to extending a hand to initiate a friendship with a warm handshake. And, more often than not, the grace of friendliness is reciprocated.

Another simple action we can take is to be thoughtful of others, for example, by leaving a public space after use in a better condition than we found it. In everyday activities such as the use of public toilets, parks and hawker centres, we can clean up after ourselves.

It is, indeed, a decision that must first be made within ourselves. Choosing to be gracious is a good way to begin constructing a quality society.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in TODAY – April 3, 2013

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