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Can You Measure Grace and Kindness?

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By Chong Pui Yee

Singapore Kindness Movement is a non-profit organization that promotes a kind and gracious society in Singapore. Started in 1997, the organization is growing strong and had engaged various forms of campaigns to promote kindness and graciousness in Singapore. Since 2009, Singapore Kindness Movement has even started assessing their impact in the society by taking national surveys and consolidate the survey results in the annual Singapore’s Graciousness Index.

The Singapore’s Graciousness Index is an annual study that tracks the perception and experience of kindness and graciousness in Singapore. The study is meant to study the perception and action on issues of kindness and graciousness among Singaporeans. The Index is composed of several indicators from two main categories – Experience and Perception. The Experience tracks Singaporeans’ experience of doing, receiving or witnessing kind and gracious acts. Whereas the Perception category looks at the opinions of themselves and others respectively.

This year, Singaporeans can take pride that the Index has improved slightly as compared to the result last year. In 2013, the score was only 53 points but this year the scores inched up to 55 points. The respondents who participated in the survey had reported that they have experienced some forms of graciousness and kindness this year. Besides, they themselves have performed some acts of kindness or graciousness to the people around them as well. Largely, the sentiment is much more positive this year.

In addition to that, respondents also think kindness and graciousness are not to be practices in the daily living but also online. This is even more pronounced for respondents who are extremely reliant on the online world where social media constitutes a large part of their lives.

For social media users, the chances of receiving rude comments in their news feed is high because ruder users can get away easily with their irresponsible comments. However, for those who are at the receiving end of these rude comments, they may find it uncomfortable to deal with such ungracious comments and feedbacks.

As commendable as the effort of Singapore Kindness Movement is, the fact is kindness and graciousness are simply hard to measure. Most people do not necessarily see acts of kindness or graciousness as something worth measuring to begin with. This is more so for those who have been inculcated to be kind and gracious since young. To them, being kind or gracious is probably simply a matter of second nature. Conversely, there are some people who would be entitled to other people’s assistance or kindness, especially from friends or family members. This category of people may not necessarily view other people’s charitable acts as acts of graciousness if they feel entitled to it.

Now the irony of Singapore Kindness Movement is that the fact that an NGO is needed to promote kindness and graciousness in a cosmopolitan society is a sign of how far the society has fallen from practicing kindness and graciousness. One of the reasons that could explain the true value of this movement is probably due to the different living demands that Singaporeans are facing. As a highly competitive capitalistic society, people are always on the rush and pressure of various forms permeate into every fabric of the society. When work and pressure take a toll on the general public, it is not surprising that people tends to take care of their own needs and be less sensitive to the need of others. The by-product of such a capitalistic state is that it inculcates a very individualistic society where people are less charitable.

That said, however limited, the Singapore Kindness Movement and its annual Graciousness Index should be continued. There is a need to keep the agenda of kindness and graciousness alive, it is a reminder that Singaporeans has every capacity to be kind and gracious even in the midst of their daily pressure in live.