What young people in COOS are thinking about
With the Jubilee weekend celebrations now behind us, Singaporeans are looking ahead to the General Elections – and even further ahead, to SG100. What do we see?
I was curious to hear from my generation. So, I wrote to eight friends in church, all born between 1991-1993, to find out what they thought about Singapore. All of us will be first-time voters this year. We are the generation “old enough” to remember SG50 well, yet “young enough” that we might witness SG100 when it comes. What do we see?
Here are 5 questions I posed to my peers about the past, the present, and the future of Singapore.
1. What’s your favourite thing about growing up in Singapore?
Huldah: It would have to be playing at sand playgrounds located in my neighbourhood. Playing at these playgrounds allowed me to make new friends with those living in same neighbourhood. Block-catching is also the best! As different HDB blocks are built differently, every game of block-catching is always a thrilling experience.
Stephanie: That we have the opportunity to grow up in a country with different cultures. We get to learn more about, and live with, cultures apart from our own. I do find this quite a unique thing about our country, and I appreciate it a lot.
Ryan: The sense of peace and security. I know that I’m living in a safe country and I don’t have to be afraid when I go out at night.
Anna: Well I haven’t grown up anywhere else so it’s hard to say, but I had a rather happy childhood. I think it’s really the things we take for granted, like being able to go to a neighbourhood school and still get a good education, or staying in a HDB flat and being near so many amenities, or having kopitiams and heartland shopping malls where we could eat and shop affordably.
2. What’s one thing that your grandparents’/parents’ generation did for your generation / for future generations that you are grateful for?
Chermaine: Taking care of their grandchildren when they are young. Though it doesn’t seem to directly contribute to Singapore in a tangible way, I feel that having grandparents care for their grandchildren is important because the transference of moral values and culture occurs under their care. I got to taste my grandmother’s traditional cooking and hear my grandfather’s stories about the past which I helped me to understand my heritage better. It’s a kind of national education, haha.
Joseph: Before I left on exchange last August, I visited my grandpa to spend some time with him. In an attempt to make conversation, I said “Grandpa, i’m going to london for exchange! Where did you travel to when you were a student?”
And he told me flat out: “when I was studying, there was no money for travelling. I just studied and worked to feed my family. But I’m very happy that you can go overseas – please tell me if you need any money for expenses!”
I am grateful that the previous generation worked hard and persisted in their various (multiple!!) jobs – today, our generation is all about “not working too hard” and “work-life balance” and “having my dream job!!!”. Most of our grandparents had none of that, but they kept at their jobs anyway, and willingly spoil us rotten today without begrudging us our luxuries. May we be as persevering and selfless…!
Anna: I think I’m most blessed that my parents and grandparents have stayed in happy marriages and built safe, stable homes for our families to return to. More than any material comforts, they have left me a legacy of what love looks like.
3. Do you feel like the SG50 celebrations are just a lot of hype, or does it mean something deeper to you personally?
Anna: Well to a certain extent it IS hype – there’s a lot of political goodwill the government is trying to build up, and other organisations know that jumping on the bandwagon is the easiest way to get funding or public buy-in. But no matter the hype, to me it does have spiritual significance to see our nation celebrate our Jubilee. Not all Singaporeans would understand the Jubilee in the biblical sense, but at least it serves as a reminder for us to be thankful, to come together in unity and to look forward to the future.
Samuel: When I see the whole nation in a mode of celebration I feel happy! I do think that the spirit of celebration is so important to cultivate. In fact I feel it’s the opposite spirit of complaining! You need to be content to celebrate.
Eusebio: I love how there’s a biblical significance behind this milestone 50th year and how the celebration efforts permeate every sector of society. It’s a sacred point in our nation’s timeline. At this junction, we remember the past, celebrate the present and dream for the future. It’s a time for restoration of the land, a time for rededication of families, a time for deciding what kind of Singapore my children will grow up in, a time to remember the alien living in our land…
Chermaine: SG50 to me is 50 years of God’s providence and faithfulness to our nation. And it makes me wonder why. Why did God bless us so much? Why not our neighbouring countries? Why us? I can only conclude that it is because small as we may be, He has blessed us so much that we may reach out to our neighbours to bless them.
4. How do you feel about being able to vote this year? Why? 🙂
Stephanie: I’m honestly very excited! I’ve been pretty apathetic about politics generally but I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the news regarding Singapore’s political scene the past few years. I’m glad I get to have a say in who makes up the new government. Even though I have only one vote, out of so many others, I believe it counts. And it’s great that we can fully trust the whole voting process to be transparent and honest here in our little red dot.
Eusebio: There’s also the realisation of the responsibility that comes with such voting power- being informed about the various parties’ manifestos and proposed plans, knowing the candidates and the work they have done thus far, and evaluating these things in a Christian perspective; seeing alignment with God’s will for the nation. All these means additional work (having to scrutinise the newspapers more often than I actually do) but it’s about being vested in the future of my country.
Samuel: I feel like it’s my right to!! Hahaha I like the fact that we live in a democracy and everyone’s vote counts. I’m the sort of person that believes every vote and person makes a difference. So I definitely feel excited.
5. What vision has God placed on your heart for Singapore?
Eusebio: My vision is for a generation who will parent the next generation with godly wisdom. That they will become fathers and mothers who will train their children in the way of the Lord and surrender their most precious asset, their children, to the Lord and His purposes. That they will not subject their children to the rat race of society but
dedicate them and train them in character. Instead of sending them for tuition and enrichment classes, they will bring them to people who are on the Lord’s heart- the poor, the orphan, the alien, the nations. That they will challenge their children to be light in their schools and lift them up in prayer every day. That they will build strong families that will make a strong nation. That we will tackle the challenges of the times with such assuredness that families will stand united. That is my vision for Singapore.
Ryan: I think it would be for our generation to take ownership of our country. We need to understand that what Singapore ultimately becomes is dependent on the choices and principles our generations hold on to.
Chermaine: I want to see a kinder Singapore, especially to foreigners. I hate that people are so indifferent to them when on many occasions, the first to release their seats on the train for someone else are usually the foreign workers. They are not bad people. So I hope that Singaporeans will be kinder.
Joseph: For Singapore to be the sort of nation with people that care deeply for their
neighbours, who can choose to set aside selfishness and pride to bridge divisions, the kind of folk that answer ‘who is my neighbour?’ with generosity and kindness and costly love.
Samuel: I actually see darkness ahead in the future. But I see hope too. I feel it’s time that the church in Singapore unites as one body finally; JDOP was merely a lttle glimpse. Jesus called for his followers to be one and I truly believe that when we stand as one and unite under the banner of God, we will know what it means to stand firm on the issues we need to, to cultivate values in the 7 gates. The church needs to equip and send forth. I do hope that the youth I disciple will one day be kings and advisors in the marketplace making Kingdom choices because Christ is king in our hearts.