I would like to thank Law Yong Wei for voicing his displeasure with regard to the attitudes of Singaporeans on public transport in “Be gracious… lend a hand to those in need” (my paper, June 19).
It is unfortunate that an incident he witnessed in 2006, where commuters failed to give up their seats to an elderly woman, has affected the way he perceives Singaporeans since. I believe many things have changed in the span of six years.
Singaporeans are generally more gracious and aware of matters pertaining to graciousness now.
This is evident from the Graciousness Index survey carried out earlier this year. The results show that Singaporeans, particularly the younger generation, are more sensitive to kindness.
According to the index, there has also been a marked improvement in graciousness as compared to last year, with the rating for young people under the age of 30 rising from a mean of 5.9 to 6.3.
Notwithstanding the survey results, negative, ungracious and unkind acts are often observed, reported or commented on more readily than positive, gracious and kind acts. That is the nature of the beast, with some studies showing that we remember negative experiences far longer than positive ones.
Civil education and campaigns aside, Yong Wei and others can play their part when witnessing such incidents, such as encouraging others to give up their seat to those who need it more, instead of just watching as a bystander.
For kindness to be cultivated and integrated into our society, each and every one of us has a role to play.
As long as we make it a habit to actively involve ourselves in this process, we can mould our society into a more gracious and civic-minded one.
Dr William Wan
Singapore Kindness Movement
First published in My Paper – June 25, 2012