Compassion and Kindness: Why They Matter
Li Yen, Luan Do and Athena , 7 Nov 17

According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘compassion’ denotes the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”. states that “if someone shows kindness, caring, and a willingness to help others, they’re showing compassion”, and “when you have compassion, you’re putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and really feeling for them”.

Is Singapore a compassionate society? How can we be more kind?

In this season of giving and sharing with loved ones and the less fortunate, let’s ruminate on why compassion and kindness matter.

Is Singapore a Compassionate Society?

Compassion and kindness are fundamental traits that define mankind. Some philosophers like Laozi consider them inborn qualities to all humans. But since ancient times, they have been universally regarded as qualities of the virtuous. 

In our politically and economically driven world, some cynics pan acts of charity and kindness as self-serving – a means to further one’s status and self-interest. 

But others would beg to differ, particularly those in one of the world’s busiest countries – Singapore.

In Education: Sowing the Seeds of Kindness

According to the 2014 World Giving Index, Singapore ranked 18th for how often residents gave money to charity. The Index also reported that this was a remarkable improvement of 80 places, as compared to three years ago.

Such phenomenal improvement could be attributed to the government’s all-rounded framework, which aims to instil compassion in every resident from a young age, starting with community service education.

From compulsory community involvement programmes (CIP) in secondary schools to voluntary charity projects in tertiary institutions, the vein of altruism is present throughout our education system, nurturing a culture of giving.

Elson Soh, founder of ‘Project Awareness’ - a social initiative group that inspires volunteerism in youths - shared with Epoch Times that his philanthropic journey has completely changed his view of Singapore. Instead of a Singapore that is “very result-oriented and materialistic”, he now sees one that is sure to extend a helping hand to those in need.

In Healthcare: To Comfort Always

The ripples of compassion can be witnessed in other aspects of society as well. 

One quintessential example is Singapore’s healthcare system, which makes our “little red dot” a popular medical destination for patients globally. 

Besides the conventional medical tourists from Indonesia and Malaysia, the healthcare sector is also seeing increasing numbers of patients from countries like China, India, and Vietnam.

A ground-level survey of over 100 foreign patients in various hospitals revealed that, besides geographical convenience and state-of-the-art medical technology, most patients chose Singapore for the first-rate care they received from the hospital staff. 

These encounters ranged from simple expressions of genuine concern during office consults or hospital stays, to cases where healthcare professionals went out of their way to help those in great financial or psychological need. 

The stories of these foreign patients reflect the healthcare sector’s mission and values -- one that strongly embraces the element of compassion.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

While there are many examples that attest to our kindness as a society, there are also ugly aspects of our society that can leave one feeling disillusioned. 

One prominent example is Singapore’s rush hour periods, when commuters push, jostle and cut queues to get on crowded buses or trains. Faced with environmental pressures, the desire to protect one’s self-interest overwhelms basic values of courtesy and consideration.

A subtle hint that we are gradually becoming more self-centred and less considerate is in our everyday speech. Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves, “When was the last time I said something that was free of self-interest?”

A Future for Kindness

In order to rectify these social issues, rules and regulations are implemented.

For example, train platforms now have painted queue lines to regulate the crowd. When that becomes insufficient, platform marshals are deployed. 

While this approach seems to solve the issue, it is important to recognise that rules and regulations can govern people’s actions, but not their hearts. 

As kindness is gradually eroded by self-interest, increasingly sophisticated rules and regulations will be required to keep society in check. We risk turning our society into one that is more chained and shackled by regimented laws than it already is. 

It therefore follows that nurturing kindness and consideration is still paramount for a harmonious society. In so doing, we cultivate a society that is a joy to live in.


Sign in to view full article

Far Beyond Crime-Ridden Depravity, Darknets Are Key Strongholds of Freedom of Expression Online
The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s ...
Roderick S. Graham
Wed, 1 Feb 17
How and Why We are Moving Beyond GDP as a Measure of Human Progress
How we track our economy influences everything from government spending and taxes to home lending and business investment. In our ...
Tani Shaw
Thu, 5 Jan 17
The Disease of Struggle
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ryszard Legutko, the minister of education of Poland, had an impression shared by many as ...
Joshua Philipp
Mon, 23 Jan 17
Robots, Aliens, Corporate Drones – Who Will be The Citizens of the Future?
In the 1940s, science fiction author Olaf Stapledon gave a talk to a school about the future. Addressing his audience ...
Will Slocombe
Wed, 22 Mar 17
Exploring the Complexities of Forgiveness
Friday, Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day – an annual day that honors the memories of the victims of ...
Yerachmiel Gorelik
Tue, 31 Jan 17
At Epoch Times, We Care :o)
An Epoch Times Survey
AcuSLIM - Acupuncture Weight Loss Programme
Sports Elements
Sports Elements