Create right environment to nurture idealism in the young

When Professor Kishore Mahbubani met Dutchman Boyan Slat, I hope he asked him about his upbringing and educational background, which would have prepared him and influenced his idealism ("In search of Singaporean idealism"; Feb 20).

In the West, youngsters leave home at the age of 18 to be independent of their families.

In Singapore, many youngsters live a sheltered life and are taken care of by family, because of our Eastern cultures and societal norms.

In that sense, we are probably different from Mr Slat from the start.

It would be ideal to nurture more idealistic young Singaporeans, and our education system must evolve to meet the challenge.

We have to ask where philosophy, idealism and poverty stem from, and how they are interrelated and affect the lives and daily activities of humans.

If we do not grasp, appreciate and accept the common ground among the three, then, many with idealistic hopes will miss the wood for the trees.

However, education alone cannot unleash the inherent moral sensibilities of our youngsters.

It is not easy to reverse the torrential flow of negativity coming from the inner core of a person, because of preconceived notions and preconditioning from a young age and the environment he lives in.

Of more disturbing concern are the unrelenting influences of the Internet, which have become a clear and present danger. No one can be insulated completely and effectively from the Internet today.

Many nations have the same aspiration to become a society that is idealistic.

This is what dreams are made of. However, whether the seeds will sprout and bear good fruit depends on how each nation nurtures its young.

Tan Kok Tim