THE concerns raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently (‘PM Lee flags two worries’; last Thursday) are obvious challenges to building a more gracious society.
The Not In My Backyard, or Nimby, syndrome is a function of self-preservation. It is a natural response. However, we should consider the logical consequences of such a response.
If every community gives this response, and if the Government succumbs to it, no necessary public facilities for senior citizens will ever be built because they will have to be in somebody else’s backyard.
The lack of such facilities will affect all of us because we all age and will need them ourselves.
Those who have difficulty accepting foreigners are also acting in self-preservation. Our forefathers were also foreigners to this land not that long ago.
Many nations that welcome foreigners continue to enjoy a relatively high standard of living because these people contribute to the economy in very significant ways. So it is with our society, and it is certainly not just to paint them all with the same brush on account of a few who conducted themselves inappropriately.
The way to preserve our quality of life is not to reject people with needs or who are different from us. An exclusive society only breeds disharmony and conflict. The better way is to be inclusive by being gracious and considerate, reaching out to those in need, and helping those who are new to adapt and integrate into our society.
It does not take much to spare some consideration and graciousness. And when the shoe’s on the other foot, I am sure we will appreciate the same kindness.
It is by our kindness that we will contribute to a better quality of life for ourselves and for others in our community.
Dr William Wan
Singapore Kindness Movement
First published in The Straits Times – April 12, 2012