A gracious society begins at home

I often wonder how long it takes for a nation to transform itself into a gracious society.

There are countries that have achieved this. Japan, for instance, has been lauded for its people's politeness and graciousness.

How can a nation as a whole achieve this standard? It all starts at home, right from a young age.

At home, we know what to do - throw wrappers and unwanted tissue into the rubbish bins, keep bathrooms dry and unclogged, and keep our house neat and in order.

But yet, on the pavement or near bus stops, litter is everywhere. We see used tissues in half-filled bowls of soups and on the floors of food centres.

Recently, people have been parking shared rental bicycles indiscriminately, or repainting the bikes to ensure sole use of them.

Parents should inculcate in children the importance of accountability, responsibility and respect for public or shared spaces.

If children are taught from a young age and showed how these values are practised, then becoming a gracious society will be a gradual but achievable process.

Children have to be responsible for their own actions and their environment, rather than having helpers do it for them.

Adults have to lead by example. It's never too late to change.

Jess Loy Soo Hui (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2017, with the headline 'A gracious society begins at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe