New year, new resolutions. But some old resolutions remain unfulfilled. Do you have any resolutions that you gave up on or that you forgot about? We Singaporeans seem to have forgotten about being more civic-minded, treating one another as a fellow human being worthy of respect. Where has our civic-mindedness gone too?

We are not unreasonable people but sometimes we act like we are. 

There are many ways to improve our civic-mindedness - in our neighbourhoods, our parks, our hawker centres, the libraries, our workplaces, in our schools, in the MRTs, and on the roads. The default mode for us seems to be every man for himself. I cannot give way to you on the road because it will waste my precious 3 seconds. I cannot wait for you to exit the MRT because then I'll be deprived of an additional 5 seconds of air conditioning. I cannot clear my plates and trays at the hawker centres because there are cleaners who are paid to do exactly that. I cannot give my maid too much food and freedom because then she won't work properly. I cannot say good morning to my neighbours in the lift because I don't really want to be friends with them. There's an accident but instead of stopping to help, there are hordes slowing down for that opportunistic photo opportunity. There's an ambulance with sirens blaring but no one gives way

It's a zero-sum, every-man-for-himself kind of game that we are playing in our own heads. To be the most-est kiasu-est one that comes out on top so that no one else can.

That is an unfortunate attitude to adopt. What has become of us?

There are indeed things that we need to put our game faces on, where we need to be competitive. Taken out of those context, do we really need to be as competitive and make enemies of others, throwing our manners and civic-mindedness away?

When you let people alight from the train first, it will be faster that everyone trying to squeeze in and out at the same time. When we clear our plates or trays, it helps to lessen the physical burden on the older workers. People won't call you stupid for clearing your trays. Neither will you be an instant hero. What you get is a life that is not as stressful, or outright irritating.

So this year, try it. Smile and make someone else smile.


The writer, Faith, is civil and mindful.

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