ask not what your country can do for you

In the heat of the elections last week, this letter printed in the ST Forum probably went largely unnoticed, but I liked it once I read it.

Ultimately, good stems from us, not the politicians

THE General Election has spun a host of negative comments, especially those flooding the online media, despite a more educated and informed society.

I hope that when we pause to reflect, we remember that courtesy and graciousness should have a place as well by pondering these questions:

  • Society comprises many units of families. A harmonious family contributes to national peace and stability. Do I treat my parents well? Do I support them, love them and care for them?
  • Have I set a good example for fellow citizens and the young ones by being a law-abiding citizen? Do I litter or help keep the environment clean?

Or do I just blame the town council for not cleaning my estate and not setting up more rubbish bins?

In Japan, there are very few rubbish bins and yet the streets are very clean. The Japanese take their rubbish home and sort all waste into different categories for recycling before disposing them in allocated bins.

  • Am I a happy and contented person by being caring, helpful and serving others? Or do I seek instant gratification from material stuff?
  • Do I bear responsibility for my health by doing regular exercise and eating moderately, or do I neglect it and blame others?
  • Am I grateful and appreciative of being able to enjoy the parks and gardens, or do I dirty these places when I visit?

Each of us can effect a positive change and it begins with us, not the politicians.

Ang Wu Chye

The Straits Times, 7 May 2011, Page A38

When I posted this letter in a comment on a certain blog maintained by doctors, one of them replied that this letter had also caught his eye, and that:

Admittedly there than things that we can do, and there are those that we cannot – but in the heat of the election we see people at once blaming government as the root of all problems and the solution to them. We are given the freedom to vote, but we use it to abdicate our responsibility to act. We imagine that our troubles are the results of our casting of a ballot, and that they can be banished with the same.

We must remember that we are more than what the government makes us. We must remember that the government shouldn’t be more than what we make it.


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