Friday, March 09, 2012

Make It Right For A Better Ride

These days I go to the public transportation bringing a book or my Nintendo DSi, playing Pokemon Black. I was self-absorbed, yet almost always go to the center of the train and stood up to let someone else sit, even while reading my book. Even when I am most of the time unstable while standing up and frequently had to use one of my hand to stabilize myself and only one other hand to read.

Fortunately I am very experienced in reading with one hand. When I put my book down however, and look around, I see something very typical of Singaporeans. There was the seats that was reserved for the needy and about half of the time, young people sit there. Well, of course if there was a real case of need, they do sit up and let those pregnant, old people, disabled, or injured to sit there. Sometimes I even see old people sat up to give way for pregnant ones. As usual, most people are oblivious to this situation.

"This is normal." We think, no praises, no smile to the one who gave, only the ones who benefit directly care to smile, and then avert their gaze for the rest of the journey. Smiling, the thing I always put on my face and I keep on putting it and looking at people in the MRT straight in the eye. Most of them averted my gaze. Almost none of them smiled. The laughter and happiness that I can hear are of those teenagers or young adults talking and happily being in their own world, or the rare family who are happily playing with their children. Most of those who have kids were too busy making sure their kids shut up and behave during the train ride. Too busy making sure their kids do not offend the stranger sitting right beside them.

As if everyone you don't know behaves like a gangster to you. As if anyone can blame parents for teaching kids to be careful. Yet, this is the world where teenagers prefer to sat up even when there were empty seats, not just those priority seats, but perfectly empty seats where it is morally not wrong to sit down on them. Yet they prefer to stand up. How could those people who go beyond the boundaries of morality to beyond being polite be anything close to a gangster? How could Singapore with its low crime rate and zero tolerance towards drug harbor anything but mostly good and kind citizens of Singapore?

Yet when I look around, people do not recognize this. They do not think of others to be as virtuous as themselves. They still see those who do not let their seats to the needy, they still say go to the center of the train, they still see images of children reminding them to give way. No wonder my friends were not proud of the catchy song of "train is coming, train is coming." nor do they talk about the video of Phua Chu Kang singing to be gracious. Not that they know about all these consciously, but it is the subconscious mind being reminded that: most of these other people are not so gracious, so there's no reason to smile at them.

How I think our journeys can be made better if more people can be more considerate and gracious? I think our journey can be made better if people just stop looking at the negative side of things. Most of us already subconsciously put in the rules of being gracious into our heads. However it is impossible to smile at a stranger if we still think of them as being not gracious. The only thing we have to change is to think in the positive way.

Praise those who give way, smile whenever there is an eye contact (I know I feel weird and would look away if some stranger does that to me, but still I felt good that there is someone out there that shares my thoughts), generally open up and let the MRT be the heart of Singapore. Open up to talk to people you would never meet again in this life, open up to smile at strangers who most probably is not used to thinking of you as a good guy to smile back.

And start these kinda campaign: Look at the person beside you and smile, because they are doing their best in being gracious. Be glad to live in a society where everyone behaves heavenly.

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