The Straits Times
Published on Dec 25, 2012

A Yuletide wish for a happier Singapore


RECENT polls have said that we are "emotionless", "unhappy" and "less likely to help others compared to many other nations" ("Emotionless? Now poll says we are unhappiest"; last Friday).

Singapore boasts a high gross domestic product, a top airport, a world-beating port and the many trappings of a modern society.

So, what's wrong?

Endowed with minimal natural resources, the people seem to be conditioned to value assets, money and profit, and are constantly urged to be more productive.

But the increasing wealth has made the people less aware of what really matters.

The daily stress of coping with the ever increasing costs of medicine, food, transport and housing, coupled with the big squeeze in Singapore, has made life much more stressful than just 10 years ago. It is no wonder that we are unhappy.

And when one is fighting for the last dollar in the barrel, there is no room in the heart for helping others.

The recent horrific gun massacre in Connecticut in the United States should give us pause. Amid the senseless murders, the bravery of the teachers who did not flinch, and gave up their lives to defend their students, stand out. Their actions show us that there is still bravery, grace and care for the next person, even in the most stressful of situations.

We have passed the doomsday that the Mayans are said to have predicted. If it was the last day on earth, would we have spent it fighting for the next purchase, or spent those last moments with our loved ones?

I hope that Singaporeans can spend the last days of 2012 reflecting on their relationships with others, visiting a loved one they have not seen for a while, or helping a stranger - invite one to a Christmas meal, for instance.

It's Christmas, so let us focus on the theme of rebirth and focus on what we really value: Love, friendship, family and our spiritual well being.

Peter Loon