By Ng Yi Shu

Yesterday, downtown and in neighbourhoods around Singapore, you may have met people in red shirts emblazoned with this logo. Distributing large brochures with a message to give up our seats in appreciation of the elderly and our mothers, they made curious passersby turn their heads through the conviction of their beliefs and their commitment to help shape a more gracious society.

This was an event from the ground-up, receiving no funding or support whatsoever from the government. The fact that it was a ground-up initiative certainly added to its appeal – my fellow volunteers were people of passion and vision, who aspired to create a spark of human connection through the campaign’s message of appreciation for our elderly and mothers; who aspired to bring hope to our society; who aspired to bond Singaporeans together over graciousness; who aspired to make Singaporeans proud of their own country… the list went on.

There are other events doing the same thing too – Project Hello Stranger, for one, for one, aspires to create a loving, warm society.

To quote NMP Lawrence Lien:

“Nationally, there are signs that Singapore has become an inclusive society. There is social growth, not recession. Our pledge is no longer aspirational; we are truly living it.

Over time, Singaporeans have cared less and less about chasing paper qualifications and money, but more and more about building a more ideal type of society to live in.”

Indeed, what NMP Lien has said is true – as evidenced by the many ground-up movements across the island.

Civil society movements, activism and social advocacy movements from the ground-up have risen in popularity – because there are more and more Singaporeans who feel that they want something bigger than themselves. And this certainly reflects upon the volunteers of StandUpFor.SG. Coming from all walks of life, the volunteers desired no tangible reward in exchange for their enthusiasm. There was no remuneration, no CIP points. The only reward that came by was the sense of pride and joy for Singapore – and the hope that with this movement of awareness a more gracious nation would come.

More interestingly, the people who we talked to on the streets were mildly curious at our initiative. Sure, there were people who walked past, apathetic. But the listening ears that came by were interested in what we had to offer as volunteers – giving us precious feedback that helped in our mission in raising awareness.

This movement and many more others will certainly live on – if not in spirit, then in time. And so will the spirit of Singaporeans – young and old.

It is indeed gratifying to have met passionate fellow volunteers and citizens alike – and my only wish is that their spirit will catch on to others – so that all Singaporeans will eventually live the Pledge.

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