Shift focus from 'me' to 'us'

I agree with editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang that we need to develop a sense of community for us to feel rooted ("Retired ST editor's book holds up mirror to Singapore society"; last Friday, and "Think less of self, more of others for a better S'pore" by Mr Lee Teck Chuan; Monday).

We need to extend our circle of concern from "self" to "others".

Singapore is an economic miracle and role model for many countries, but is this enough to make it home?

Do we feel a strong sense of identity and belonging, and are we civic-minded and gracious?

Where is the sense of identity and community if we do not know our neighbours, do not chit-chat with our colleagues, or if we treat family members like tenants, or have more online friends than real friends?

There are certain things that we can work on:

•Giving up seats in public transport, even when elderly people or pregnant women are not near us.

•Looking up from our mobile phones to survey our surroundings and see if anyone is in need or if we are blocking the way.

•Using the escalators or stairs if we are able-bodied, so that users of strollers and wheelchairs can have the lift.

•Speaking up or helping in times of trouble, instead of just taking photos or recording videos of the incident.

•Exchanging simple pleasantries or giving a smile rather than staying speechless and not making eye contact during transactions.

If the self-centred mentality continues to dominate, Singapore will become just a place for people to make money and then leave for greener pastures when the going gets tough.

But if we are embedded in a web of friendships, relationships, involvement and passions that fulfil us emotionally and socially, and shift our focus from "self" to "us", then Singapore will become home.

Ng Poh Leng (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Shift focus from 'me' to 'us''. Print Edition | Subscribe