One of the most profound pieces of news came my way this week and I feel like I must provide my opinion on it. Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC Mr Ang Wei Neng said in Parliament that field trips abroad would help the youth in the country better appreciate the success Singapore has experienced. The feeling is that today’s youth have a sense of entitlement and don’t truly value the concept of a life that includes helping others. (link here)
“Instead of city lights, the students would enjoy a beautiful sky full of stars,” he said. “Instead of air-conditioning, students would enjoy the fresh morning dew. Instead of morning traffic noise, the students would enjoy the sound of singing birds. After going through the relatively tough field trip, the students will hopefully appreciate the infrastructure in Singapore better.”
As a parent who has taken his child on overseas trips that focused on helping others, I will say that I appreciate the intent of the comments that were recently made. I do believe that things can be a little better every day, but the only way to accomplish that is through helping others the way we’d like to be helped ourselves. It is easy to develop a routine that is focused around oneself and that routine can be difficult to break once established.
I also believe, however, that this service must be provided with a humble attitude. A gracious, loving attitude that doesn’t speak of superiority or of a need to revel in our own successes. Serving others isn’t about having an eye-opening experience about our blessings! I believe that service is about offering people a hand up. It’s about a chance to make life better in some small way.
It’s about changing the world, one person at a time, because at our core we are all equal.
I have much pride for my nation, yet as a parent I must be careful about the labels I choose to use. Once I begin to place a label on someone that lessens them, what I’m really doing is raising my own stature in my own eyes. I’m placing myself on a hill so that I can see a sunrise and forcing someone else into a position of being stuck on the valley below, wandering aimlessly through the fog.
One of the greatest lessons I believe that I can teach my son isn’t that we should be proud of what we have here in Singapore, but that we can be content in all circumstances here in Singapore. Whether we are rich, poor, hungry, or full, our circumstances will change, but we don’t have to allow our level of contentedness to change.
We must train our children so that they will have the chance to go where we as parents want them to go. When we do so, they may still depart from that, but we’ll have installed a core value that will not leave their soul. That’s why I strive to find adventures with my son that will help you explore the world of humble service – not so that we can know how great we are, but so that together, father and son, we can help another father and son or another family be better tomorrow than they are today.
Visitation to the slums in Smokey Mountains, Tondo, Philippines with Trek For Hope
In the good times, I believe it is our responsibility to help others wherever they may be. In the bad times, the dynamic changes and people should lend us a hand in return. Instead of focusing on me, I want to teach my son to focus on all of us, on equality, and on not being afraid to reach out his hand to help.
Everyone deserves to come out of the fog and experience the sunrise.