This just came in and I’m not sure what’s exactly the idea. Graceful way to retire the tired Singa mascot? The government finally realising that kindness and courtesy campaigns do not work? Some new overzealous fresh grad government officer’s brilliant idea to provoke thought and inducing guilt?
I don’t know but here’s the letter;
From the desk of SINGA
Subject: Open Letter to Singapore – I Quit
I need a long break, and you could probably use a break from me too. I get it. No one likes being nagged at, even if it’s about being kind and gracious.
I suppose it’s about time. After all, I’ve been doing this for over 30 years – first, as the Courtesy Lion, and more recently, as your mascot for kindness. I’m just too tired to continue facing an increasingly angry and disagreeable society.
It’s been said that kindness shouldn’t be a campaign. That kindness should be a part of values education. That people in authority – at work, in school, at home and in government – should lead by example.
Fair enough. I suppose it’s time for real people to step up, and for the mascot to step aside.
It’s not that we aren’t a gracious society, or that kindess is not innate in all of us. But some days it feels like not very many of us believe in or care about expressing kindnesss. We say, “We have so many problems. How can we be kind?”. Or “Fix my problems first, then we can talk about being kind.”
Should we let kindness and graciousness disappear while we fix these “bigger” problems? Is kindless only for the good times? Does graciousness come with terms and conditions? If we can only be nice if other people are nice to us first, who will start the ball rolling? Or can we rise above our differences and be gracious, even in challenging times?
A final word before I go. Let’s be responsible for our actions. We can refuse to give up our seats on the train if we don’t want to, but let’s not blame it on the crowd. We can go online and be rude to others, but let’s not think it “doesn’t count” because it’s anonymous. We can let our anger and disagreement dictate the kind of people and society we want to be, or we can decide to be gracious, even when frustrated.
We are responsible for the sort of society we encourage and create. It is our choices that determine who we are.
All the best, Singapore.
Originally written on 15 May 2013.