Why doubt motives of kind strangers?

Recently, during my exam period, I received a kind, encouraging note from a stranger in Bishan library.

It touched me and, a week later, I decided to pass it on. I roped in a friend and we worked on little cards to give out, in the hope of making someone's day.

I received a rude shock.

Many people waved their hands in our faces or stepped around us. Some gave us a flippant "no thanks" or did so wordlessly. Some eyed the proffered card suspiciously, even after we assured them that we were not selling anything.

It then occurred to me that Singaporeans are not used to receiving kindness, especially if there is no special occasion, like Christmas.

Many questions were thrust our way, asking what the cards were for and why we were giving them out.

Is it so unthinkable for a tidbit of kindness to come your way?

That said, there were a few people who offered us wide smiles as they accepted the card.

Singapore has a long way to go in terms of inculcating the culture of kindness. If kindness is not at the root of Singapore's society, then what good is it to be a dynamic, prosperous and intelligent society?

Cheryl Kho Xue Er, 15, Secondary 3 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'Why doubt motives of kind strangers?'. Print Edition | Subscribe