Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

Apathy, Empathy Or Sympathy

on March 30, 2014

These three emotive descriptions are constantly cited as our society progresses. It seems that a lot has been written on Singaporeans that they lack compassion, cultural kindness (latest to be written up on in the papers this morning) and empathy.

I can agree on the lack of cultural kindness as men do not help with opening of heavy glass doors or holding it open. One saunters into an elevator cabin and if you are in the cabin near the button panel, you are automatically the lift attendant as the one entering would call out a floor number!

I was in an elevator in my condo unit and riding down when it stopped on 8th floor and in came a young lad of about 12 years in his swimming trunks. He was going to the pool. He called out 1st floor. No please etc. I decided to turn to my android phone and ignored him. Sheepishly he turned to the button panel and pressed on 1st floor as I was riding to the basement. When he exited, he muttered out no social graces!

This is how a child is brought up in Singapore. If his parents knew, would they chide him for his behavior? He behaved selfishly with no kindness to smile or greet but expected you to press the floor button for him when he was fit, febrile and had two empty hands facing a lift panel of buttons in front of him.

Is cultural kindness extinct? Given my limited mobility state and if I am seen wearing an Aspen collar, I will be given aid for doors and people get out of my way to give me space. Without any overt sign, it is for each to fend in this rush rush world.

Empathy is hard for youngsters as they do not know what it is like to feel hunger, lack bread and butter issues as they have permanent automated teller machines (ATM) in their mother or father.

They lack nothing. They do not need to earn pocket-money as their parents give them designer togs with no effort spared. Is this going to spoil them? I think it does.

Empathy must be experienced and until it is, how can one show empathy?

Apathy is easy as young ones just cannot be bothered. It is easier to turn a blind eye than to be open-eyed to societies sufferings, pains or ills.

Sympathy is easy to say and give at time of death or illness. But when one is less sympathetic does that make one better or worst off? I have no answer as con men ply on the elders who are sympathetic and I do not agree to con men tricks.

I guess it requires a careful balance to use these emotive descriptions, depending on circumstances prevailing.

To me, it all boils down to parenting skills.

Every human starts off as a baby, unprogrammed, clean and mind free. It is the adults that create these new beings in the way taught and expect teachers or the school or the domestic help to take over parenting.

Regrettably, parenting cannot be delegated and the buck stops at the father and mother!

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