Good also to talk about what can tear us apart

Pedestrians walking outside Takashimaya in Orchard Road, on March 23, 2018.
Pedestrians walking outside Takashimaya in Orchard Road, on March 23, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

I thank Mr Lee Teck Chuan for weighing in (Is Singapore ready for tough conversations?, May 17).

In my earlier Forum letter, I recognised that sensitivity, simple human decency and civil decorum must be exercised when it comes to open conversations on sensitive topics.

The point is taken: We should not be reckless and risk damaging our fragile harmony by insisting on an honest conversation.

That is one half of the issue. The other half is: How long can we avoid honest conversations and hope to achieve true harmony?

In my follow-up letter of May 15, I stressed that empathy, humility and security in our own identities is required to engage in these conversations.

For me, we would have achieved significant maturity in our national identity when we can move forward in confident recognition and discussion of not just what binds us, but also what could tear us apart.

If we have not achieved as much as we should, then starting on these conversations with baby steps, careful curation, and anchored on what binds us, is the way forward to a gracious and truly harmonious society.

And the fact that we can converse as we do now on the Forum pages is one positive step forward.

William Wan (Dr)

General Secretary

Singapore Kindness Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'Good also to talk about what can tear us apart'. Print Edition | Subscribe