Forum: Courtesy begets courtesy

A photo taken in 2012 shows Singa the Lion, then the official mascot of the Singapore Kindness Movement, greeting participants at the National Kindness Conference.
A photo taken in 2012 shows Singa the Lion, then the official mascot of the Singapore Kindness Movement, greeting participants at the National Kindness Conference.PHOTO: ST FILE

There has been much discussion of late on the state of social graciousness in Singapore.

Courtesy begets courtesy, but only if everyone else does it.

In fact, many have given up being gracious because one often stands alone in upholding such acts.

So they take the view that if you cannot beat them, join them.

Graciousness is also seen by some as a weakness. One's survival instinct kicks in naturally in a highly competitive environment.

In a fast-paced society like ours, we are often hard-pressed for time and may inadvertently slip in being gracious. But that is no excuse for rudeness.

Much is left to the social compact to set the norms of good behaviour. That should not be the way. Such behaviour should be shaped in school and at home when children are young , malleable and impressionable.

These values will then be internalised and good social behaviour becomes natural.

Japan is well-known for starting children young on gracious manners.

But people need to be continually reminded to be gracious.

We cannot rely on punitive measures like fines to discourage bad behaviour.

Lee Teck Chuan