Change measures of success to instil more generosity

While monetary generosity is not the only way to measure one's willingness to help others, it is ironic that younger adults are less willing to give their resources to strangers, compared with older adults, given the emphasis on values such as compassion and generosity in schools over the last two decades (Elderly more generous with strangers: NUS study; June 13).

I believe this reflects a difference in mindsets between the two groups.

The working world is becoming increasingly competitive.

Monetary assets and socio-economic background are, unfortunately, still yardsticks of success in our society.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

Hence, it is not surprising that younger adults are less willing to give their resources to someone they are not acquainted with, since they will not get any benefit in return.

Perhaps, being overly compassionate and generous to others are seen as stumbling blocks and in conflict with their personal interests.

Senior citizens, on the other hand, have experienced more ups and downs throughout their lives, which possibly makes them more empathetic individuals.

Many are probably no longer fixated on the pursuit of material wealth but are searching for spiritual fulfilment and meaning in life through helping others.

Perhaps, if we could shift away from the traditional measures of success and minimise the preoccupation with material wealth, younger adults would be more willing to give their resources to those in need.

It will take a long time, but more needs to be done to instil a greater sense of social responsibility in our younger generation.

Lim Xin Yuan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2017, with the headline 'Change measures of success to instil more generosity'. Print Edition | Subscribe