It's been a wonderful celebratory weekend. There's much to be thankful for. The more I learn, the more I discover how this nation shouldn't have survived, much less thrive — progress and prosperity within one generation. Yet we did, no wonder they call us the miracle nation.
While we ought to be proud of our achievements and look to the future with confidence, it's important to avoid hubris. If it took a generation to bring us here, it also means all of it can be undone in one generation. History and Geography will be important vaccines against arrogance and conceit.
Looking forward, where will the next generation bring Singapore to by SG100? The past 50 years are, in a sense, easier as the goals for nation building were much more tangible, much clearer. To survive, we needed to build homes, roads, electricity, water; we needed to create jobs and train a population with skills to take those jobs. As our nation progressed, it was about improving infrastructure, improving jobs, improving the skills of a population.
Improvement can take us only so far. There's only so much improvement you can make. Faster cars, bigger homes, more money, more materials — we've probably passed the point where more is worse. Take for example productivity. Even with technology, working harder and longer will not make us more productive. Rather than improve our existing situation, we need to reimagine the future. Instead of more of the same, how about something entirely new?
What do you imagine the future to be? Articulating what you see in your mind is what is known as a vision. In a sense, that's what our Pioneer Generation did, to imagine a swampy land into a bustling metropolis.
Here's my imagination of the future, my dream for Singapore 100:
We'll celebrate a nation who has matured inwardly. We've done well, built a nation strong and free. The next generation of leaders have servants hearts and more importantly, lead us to be a nation with servant hearts. What motivates us is no longer being the best, but being the best to serve those around us - fellow citizens and the region.
A nation where citizens are content with what we already have. Rather than chase after the next consumable or status, to be content to enjoy our homes and families, parks and communities.
At SG100, nations will celebrate alongside, thankful for Singapore as a place of rest. Where the stability and security attracts leaders of other nations to come here to rest, recharge and reflect for their nation.
That professionals and executives will flock to our shores, attracted not by the wealth, but by what they can learn and develop to take back to develop their communities.
That Singapore will be a cultural and arts leader. A hub where artists come to be inspired and exchange ideas. May our artists not go down the path of relativism. That they take seriously the responsibility to use art to reveal and challenge our assumptions of truth. May our artists be driven to find truth, and share with others through their works.
Let every citizen - children, youths, adults and seniors - at SG100 be driven to be the best, so that we can better bless those around us.
What do you imagine the future to be? With the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, our golden jubilee and the upcoming elections, it's perhaps apt for every citizen to think and reflect. As educators, we have the responsibility to lead our students to think about these things. The best way to lead: start with the self; start by being thinkers who reflect. Only then can we show by example; be a role model for them to emulate.