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The National Day Rally struck me on what PM Lee mentioned he'd like to see: Hope, Heart and Home.
For all the grievances we may have, there is one thing he's right about. Singapore has achieved a great deal in such a short history that we are recognised worldwide. Sometimes not really for the best of things but at least we've achieved a lot for a tiny dot.
I'm not sure what more I can say about our education system though. As much as I want to bring out its many pitfalls, there are so many good things about it too. It's just not one suited for a child who lacks academic excellence. I am a firm believer that our children need a happy childhood filled with good memories. Not one filled with tuition and tonnes of homework.
When PM talked about Hope, I recognise how our society is a meritocratic one where many who start off with humble beginnings have a shot to do well. For that, I'm grateful.
Heart and Home are synonymous to me. You can't have one without the other as I believe that everything starts at Home. What I see lacking in Singapore, sadly, is our lack of gratitude and graciousness. The issue of foreigners has never seen more irrational behaviour than in the last year.
While mostly everything starts at Home, there is also a need to educate our people, starting from schools when they're young. We are so caught up in excellence for good grades, being the No. 1 in everything that our competitive streak sometimes makes us forget to be grateful for what we do have and to help the less fortunate.
Our materialistic needs sometimes overcomes the heart in us. When I see ladies grabbing designer bags at sales as if they are being offered for free, I wonder what is it that makes one need SO MANY bags when the cost of one could feed a needy child for a year or more or pay for his education.
I wish to see Singaporeans place less concerns on their place in society, their rank, their profession. Respect for each other, whether you are a bus driver or a garbage collector or a doctor, regardless of one's race, language or religion. That is what Heart is. No looking down at another human being who may not be at your level in society. Respect for the person who holds a humble job because he gets the job done when no one else may want it. Heart is about treating others as equals.
The one 'H' PM forgot to mention was Happiness. I think above all, with all the wonderful slew of offerings there may be, what is really needed is a society filled with Happy People. I think we overlook that too often in our hectic chase for certificates and medals and being at the top. When we are grateful, we are contented.
When we are contented, then only can we be Happy.
Jo-Anne Lee (Fei Ming), 41
The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit an all-time high of 321 at 10pm on Wednesday, crossing into the "hazardous" range, according to data from the National Environment Agency (NEA).