Youth not lagging behind in kindness

December 19, 2014

MR ANDREW Leung Weng Kan’s letter (“Unfair to label younger generation impolite”; Forum Online, Dec 10) zeroes in on the crux of the matter – that tarring our young people with the same brush is unfair to the many who are polite.

The Singapore Kindness Movement works regularly with “ground-up” movements – individuals or groups that volunteer their time and ideas to help make Singapore a kinder and more gracious nation. These movements are usually initiated and run by individuals motivated to create real change in society – and they tend to be young people. The same is true of the bulk of our regular volunteers.

Should we then use this example to say that older Singaporeans are less gracious and less likely to volunteer to do good for their community? Of course we shouldn’t.

Our annual Graciousness Index survey showed that Singaporeans under the age of 30 have grown more optimistic about graciousness over the last three years, compared with those over 50 who were less optimistic.

Kindness begets kindness. People who are more inclined to be positive and see the good in others are also more likely to pay it forward.

The opposite is also true.

It is also interesting to note that the majority of the Graciousness Index respondents shared Miss Tan Lin Neo’s view (“It’s up to parents, schools to teach good manners”; Forum Online, Dec 10). Across the board, Singaporeans believe parents and teachers have a part to play in inculcating graciousness among school-age children.

In fact, all of us play a part through our own behaviour. It would not do for parents and teachers to teach children to be polite, only to have all that good work undone by poor adult role models the children meet.

If we want to be a more polite society, a more gracious community, then each of us needs to be less quick to point out the failure in others, and instead be quicker to model the gracious behaviour we aspire to in our daily lives. Indeed, a nation of kindness starts with one.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in The Straits Times – December 19, 2014

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