The recent example of the video of the NUS/SIM boy making its round on social media, drawing much anger from netizens, is indicative of this. Yes, the student said some unfortunate things, but many comments from keyboard warriors were equally unkind, if not worse. When the boy’s actions and the subsequent reaction are viewed in totality, it makes Singaporeans look like angry, petulant children. The story even made it to the mainstream media, which further sensationalised the issue.
Some will justify the reactions to say that we must fight fire with fire, but I’ve been brought up to think that the best way to fight fire is with water.
|Fireworks at the Marina Bay Floating Platform|
At the floating platform, I was seated next to Jeremy, another younger gentleman. Seeing me fumble with the clappers, he offered to inflate them for us. It was quite warm and the middle-aged lady seating in front of us was fanning herself. I looked into the fun pack but could not find the fan. I asked her whether it is in the bag. She replied in Mandarin and offered to find the fan for me. She did. I thanked Jeremy and the lady, and gave them both a kindness card each.
When I first took on the assignment to drive the Kindness Movement, I was told that it is a thankless task. Sixteen months on, I have found the going uphill but not altogether thankless. There are many who are very thankful for the work we do. For every negative or cynical response, there are many more positive encouragements and suggestions.
Studies have shown that people remember negatives more because we generally tend to take good things for granted. Negatives tend to be sensational too and they get more “air time” than positives. Not unlike the local debate on foreign talent or people making regrettable remarks online, when a silent majority says nothing, while those who are angry make all the vitriolic noise. As such, it is easy to have the impression that Singaporeans are generally not kind.
This is not to say that the unhappiness is without basis. That is the reason why I am in support of the upcoming national conversations. My only caveat being that these should indeed be true dialogue - not one side imposing their views on the other, and this applies both ways. Not listening is unkind too. When people believe that their views are being genuinely considered, passionate and even heated debate can be conducted in a civil, respectful and gracious tone.
I have reason to believe that the majority of our people are inherently kind. However, they need to be affirmed and encouraged to express not just their angst, but also their kindness by their action. Hence we created a card that says, “Thanks for being a great example for others. Here’s a kindness card for you and hope it inspires you to keep the kindness spirit going…”
|The Kindness Card|
|Rock The Kindness by Blessings in a Bag|