No lack of youth with idealism

Straits Times Forum 24 Feb 16;

I disagree that Singapore's youth lack idealism, because there are many young people doing all kinds of volunteer work here ("In search of Singaporean idealism"; last Saturday).

Just because we are not working on a project as big as Ocean Cleanup does not mean we are not working hard to do something about issues we care about.

Marine trash is a pressing issue correlated with mass fish deaths, and it is not well known because no one sees much of it.

The National Environment Agency spends about $1.4 million cleaning recreational beaches every year, but there are also organisations doing something about it, including the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, Outward Bound Singapore and Sea Shepherd Singapore.

An online response to last Saturday's commentary said that we need to scrape idealism off the classroom floor, but I do not fully agree.

We need to light the fire of idealism in everyone, because everyone knows that the world can be a better place, but not everyone knows how to go about doing it.

Look at the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement. Its members have dedicated no small amount of time and effort in fighting for an ideal: That our natural heritage deserves to be protected and that our primary forests, what little we have, are worth protecting.

And who are most of these people? Youth.

Look at the People's Movement to Stop Haze. Its members have spent countless hours researching and reaching out to Singaporeans about the causes of the haze, and letting people know that they can do something more than just buying masks and air purifiers.

Who are these people? Youth.

These are ground-up movements by people who genuinely care and want to do something about issues affecting Singapore.

Other areas, such as the arts and humanitarian issues, are also filled with young people with ideals. Their story may not be known to people outside their community, but that does not mean they do not exist.

All the same, we could do with more young people with the ideals and the passion to change things for the better.

So, to the idealistic youth: Let us strive towards our vision of a better world.

Ho Xiang Tian

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