As everyone celebrates Singapore’s 50th birthday, I catch myself looking back to the beginning of the journey. Nothing was assured. As confident as a few were, many had doubts. At the time, I remember comments labelling Singapore as a sleepy backwater that would never do anything with urgency. In today’s world it is hard to imagine anything done without it! I recall references to attitudes that could not, would not change. There was little hope, or so many thought.
Today, with high employment rates, full stomachs, and a confidence that comes from living well for long periods of time, it is hard to understand why anyone did not believe. It is as if God and the forces of good were behind the ten men who signed the proclamation of independence with Lee Kwan Yew. We can say talk confidently of “how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel.” (Psalm 84.5)
As I look back and to the present, I would like to share the following observations.
There are opportunities for everyone. Good, bad, well intentioned and selfish – each and all have windows of change and progress. What we do with them as we step in and through determines what follows. Everything pivots in the moment at hand. Our pasts can be forgiven; our futures are yet to be written.
Great principles are more than aspirations we talk about. When we act on principles, they etched themselves into our hearts and shape the outcomes the follow. In Singapore’s case, democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality have come to define the community and shapes the experience of everyone within its borders.
It is never enough to do something good once. We are challenged to repeat good again and again. In Singapore’s national anthem the title says Majulah Singapore! Onward Singapore! When one stumbles, get up, learn, and step again.
The road has been well traveled. As good as the past is, the question remains in the moment; what will we do now? I hear a calling to live deep and well.