Are you An Apathetic Singaporean?

Two weeks ago, when I chanced upon a video on Facebook about floods in Colorado, USA. K glanced at it and commented, “There are so many floods these few months, normal to see people die…”

Colorado See before and after photos of Colorado at this link

I raised my voice and looked him sternly in the eye, “What do you mean it is normal? It is NOT normal for people to lose their lives from a disaster! Do you think it is normal if your daddy, your Nana or your friend, or anyone close to you die from a disaster?” He weakly muttered, “No…”

I replied, “Remember this, when you see people suffer around you, it is bad enough that we are not able to help being so far away, but don’t you ever dare to say this is normal ever, do you understand! This is not normal, people do not deserve to die and suffer like that! Just because it doesn’t happen in Singapore, doesn’t mean that we can have a bad attitude about it! Pray for these people, that God shows mercy to them and more turn to Him before it is too late.”

I might sound harsh to my 6 year old, but I was alarmed to have heard apathy expressed from a young child. When did he learn not to care? Maybe he did not understand the severity of the situation, and the harsh reality of lives lost sensessly to the natural disasters that have increased in frequency the past 2-3 years.

Natural disasters. We can’t do anything about it, and we have been really blessed living in Singapore, where the closest disaster that we have experience lately was the few days of terrible haze, some flash floods and the possible onset of pestilences.

How about incidences that it is within our reach to be able to help?

Do you recall the incident in 2011 of a two year old girl in Guang Dong province who was hit by two vehicles after wandering onto the road? The little girl laid unconscious and bleeding on the ground for 6 minutes, as over a dozen people passed over her body, none of them stopped to check or helped her. The incident was captured on a surveillance camera and video was circulated through the internet and social media network. It sparked an out cry amongst the Chinese media and the people online and many were shocked by the people who just passed by a person, a child at that, in need.

There have been discussions that there was a 2006 case of Peng Yu, resulted in citizens becoming increasingly wary of lending a hand to strangers in need. Peng Yu, a resident of Nanjing, Jiangsu province, came to the aid of an elderly woman who had fallen in a public area. The woman later accused him of causing her fall, and took him to court.

The court decided in favor of the woman based on the reasoning that Peng would not have helped the woman had he not felt guilt from causing the fall in the first place, and ordered him to pay compensation to the elderly woman.

I think that was a pretty warped logic from the Chinese courts to start with. So people will only help others out of guilt?

I wonder if Singaporeans will one day become like this. For the fear of getting into trouble, or with a pre-occupation with self-interest, do not care for the needs of others around them?

With the increased of cynicism towards the present that seems discouraging picture. Or a future that looks unpromising, it will seem difficult to care about life, what more for others! Especially when life does not seem to care about you. Thoughts like, “I have so much of my own issues to take care of, why should I extend a helping hand to the young, weak or old?” will eventually become a commonplace of people’s attitudes toward others.

That same week, I came across an exchange through Facebook that indicated that apathy is very much alive in our environment : Screen Shot 2013 10 08 at 11 12 58 AM Well, at least this person expressed what he felt, and still bothered to comment. He was likely generalizing about beliefs as a whole. And the usual thought of “What can we do anyway?” likely crossed his mind. As usual, your friend here cannot keep her mouth shut since I don’t agree with the practice that was shared, even though it might be ‘normal’ in a certain culture.

Apathy tends to be more pronounced when we do not know what we can do to help or limited by our ability to help. Why say so much if I cannot help? Actually some of us can, prayer is action for a Christian, as I know God hears my prayers, and I trust that He will intervene in His perfect timing, even when I cannot see what He will do.

As a parent, I need to watch out for my child ever becoming pessimistic or cynical about life. All of that breeds apathy. And eventually an outlook with little hope, lots of disappointment, resentment about life in general. Often I agree that the challenges that we experience through life can be hard, and feeling resigned to life is a normal emotional process that we experience. However, there still always still hope.

A loss of hope and apathy is actually two sides of the same coin. Could the apathetic lack a sense of purpose or meaning in their life? So it gets easier to deal with things when they don’t care.

Here’s a video to gauge your level of apathy,

[yframe url=’’]

The usual responses that I have heard from people after seeing videos of this nature are :

1. Is this really happening around the world? What is wrong?

2. It is terrible, but disasters happen all the time, luckily it doesn’t happen in Singapore. (My comment : Really? At this frequency?)

3. Who cares? I already have enough issues on my own, why should I care about people or things happening so far away? Stop showing me things like that.

**Btw, this the most recent video of the compilation of natural disasters that are happening around the world in the mid-end week of September 2013.

So, how can you tell if you are an apathetic Singapore? Try taking this Apathy Test . And if you have found yourself to be apathetic, it is probably time to find out what is the purpose and meaning of life. Screen Shot 2013 10 08 at 2 28 46 PM

Linking up with new button


Share it:

Related posts:


  1. It’s really sad to see so many people harden their hearts and not care about others around them.. without GOD in their hearts the world is become a really cruel place.
    Dominique Goh´s last blog post ..Red, Pink and White

  2. carol lim says:

    thanks for bringing up a teaching point. i don’t know how my 4 yo will respond to this video, but i will show it to him and talk to him about it.

  3. I think, family, friends and medias are an influential lot to the children. What they see and hear, will probably result in how they perceive things in general. Yes, we cannot help it when there are natural disasters but my heart goes out to the victims. However I also think, grieving or having it affect our own lives do not solve the problem either. I would usually choose to raise such issues to my children and have them know that it is not a bed of roses for everyone in the world. Hence, a needful prayer for hope, peace and grace.
    Adeline Oon´s last blog post ..I Showed Kindness But Was Probably Judged In The End