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Pay more attention to values, vision and dreams

In the effort to reinforce our Singaporean identity, we should pay more attention to the more important elements.

In the effort to reinforce our Singaporean identity, we should pay more attention to the more important elements.

The components of our identity come in different echelons. We tend to focus too much on our languages, food and ways of doing things in daily life. But tastes, likes and dislikes change over time; some of today’s hawker food may disappear by 2030 or 2040.

Less popular food may become popular, like eating yusheng during the Lunar New Year has become, or how getai has displaced traditional operas during the Seventh Month. Our Singlish may also change, with words added and others dropped.

Above these behaviours are our values and ethos, such as our belief in equality and our resolve against racial discrimination. We value honesty, hard work, religious freedom and cultural diversity. These serve to guide our conduct and our judgment.

These elements make our Singapore passport valuable in the world; we should defend and improve them with more effort.

The task is not easy. We face some difficulties in passing values to younger Singaporeans. Values of marriage and family life are slowly eroding.

The influx of foreigners makes the task more challenging. Surely, though, we can learn values and deeds from them, too. Let us be open-minded. Most importantly, Singaporeans must set a good example in the behaviours to which we subscribe.

For example, bowing is such an embedded decorum of the Japanese that even tourists would imitate it after a few interactions with the locals. Over time, we should cultivate our own unique type of courtesy or kindness that even foreigners would imitate.

The next echelon of our Singaporean identity comprises our shared experiences, wisdoms, perspectives and dreams as a people. Are we a far-thinking people, for example?

As a young nation, we are disadvantaged in this respect. We must broaden our visions and learn more from others’ experiences, especially in how to forge more social and national good amid competing views and interests, and in an increasingly globalised world.

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