How inequality and kindness differ

People walk across Raffles Quay on March 7, 2019.
People walk across Raffles Quay on March 7, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Associate Editor Vikram Khanna gives a fair and just perspective on the important topics of poverty, inequality, meritocracy, economics and politics (Why inequality matters, June 19).

Like Mr Khanna, my team and I have been perturbed at the supposedly economics-based articles and letters he cited which, in simple language, argued that inequality is not unfair, and that it is a mistake to conflate poverty with inequality.

To dismiss the struggles and structural barriers faced by those living in poverty, and leave them to fend totally for themselves against institutionalised inequality, is terribly unjust and unkind.

To say that total economic freedom and inequality are not unfair is not only dangerous, but also callous and an excuse to propagate self-centredness and selfishness.

Kindness is being other-centred. It's about looking out for others, including being conscious, both individually and as a society, to leave no one behind.

More than an economic miracle, this values-centred identity is surely what we want Singapore to be. I am heartened that the latest 2019 Graciousness Survey results show that we are generally being more considerate in our behaviours.

The first step towards kindness is self-awareness and empathy. We can all claim to be kind, but actions speak louder than words. Let us take stock of our own personal resources - time, treasure and talents - and where we might be more privileged and better off, give back.

To say that total economic freedom and inequality are not unfair is not only dangerous, but also callous and an excuse to propagate self-centredness and selfishness.

I am hopeful that as we all more consciously do our own part, kindness will prevail, despite the presence of inequality in society.

William Wan (Dr)

General Secretary

Singapore Kindness Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'How inequality and kindness differ'. Print Edition | Subscribe