Civic-mindedness Still Lacking

Volcanic eruptions are a potent reminder that at any moment, Mother Nature has the power to change everybody’s plan. Similarly, last week during the 14th general elections, we witnessed how the general public can throw away a corrupt regime through their ballot boxes.

However, when it comes to certain social matters, we are yet to change. Something unpleasant happened at the D.R. Seenivasagam recreational park the other day. I noticed a little girl at the playground heading straight for the slide. She stood by and waited for her turn as a little boy played happily on the slide. His young mother was looking on beaming with pride. The little girl’s family shared in her obvious delight at his antics – walking up the slide and zooming down again in glee.

But after 15 minutes the little girl began to lose her enthusiasm and patience. The little boy was obviously not going to share ‘his’ slide with anyone, neither was his mother. To that young mother, I have this to share.

When we blatantly condone selfishness in our children and place self-interest above concern for others, we are creating a society that is both callous and uncaring.

Children have to be taught that selfishness is no excuse for self-preservation. But I guess many of us parents have not been doing our homework.

Look around and judge for yourself. Have you ever been to Kong Heng in Ipoh Old town or the Woolley food court at Ipoh Garden or even the New Hollywood restaurant at Canning Gardens, queuing up for a table when a man coolly and conveniently reaches out and deposits his shopping bags on the table that was supposed to be yours?

Look at the people jostling and hustling as they fight along with their foreign counterparts for a seat in the public buses at the Medan Kidd bus station. Some litter our streets as others smoke in an air-conditioned coaches and restaurants despite the “No Smoking” sign.

Yellow boxes designated as parking lots are commonly found on Ipoh streets, where vehicles can be parked without obstructing traffic. While there are still many sites in Ipoh where vehicle owners park side by side and at the rear with no consideration for the other vehicle owners.

And anyone who had the misfortune of having to use a public toilet will readily agree that the common consensus seems to be: If it does not belong to you why give it a second thought?

We can be quite eloquent when we discuss problems and crises in the world and talk of the search for universal peace. But let us not get too ambitious. Let us start with being civil to one another.

When psychologists tell us that children learn to socialize, co-operate and share by the age of three, do not just sit there and think that it will happen by itself. Parental guidance has a lot to do with it too.

Everybody wants the best for his child – so, for a start let compassion begin at home. While we are glad that now, we are under a very able leadership with Tun Mahathir being the premier. Hopefully the newly-appointed Chief Minister and the Ipoh City Council would deliver their best for the benefit of the Ipoh people.

S. Sundralingam

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