For The Greater Good

There are many ways to help the community.

By Alywin Chew      4 October 2021

You know, there are several similarities between doing charity and National Service.

For starters, they are both centred on the concept of doing something for the greater good.

Charity is about making the world a better place for others.

NS, on the other hand, is about making the country a safer place for all Singaporeans.

I think Singapore has certainly done a great job in this respect. I really cannot imagine why anyone would want to attack a nation where most of its men know how to operate an assault rifle and would likely be fighting from high-rise housing blocks equipped with bomb shelters.

Cut off our food supply? Please. Do you know how much instant noodles we have stocked in these bomb shelters?

Next, charity and NS both function on the premise of collective strength.

You must have heard the term “force multiplier” being mentioned many times during your NS days. No, I’m not referring to how having your buddy as your wingman increases your chances of picking up a girl at the bar. I’m talking about how advanced weaponry can amplify the fighting strength of a small team of soldiers.

This is also the reason why you never chiong an objective alone but as a group.

Unless, of course, the objective is the elusive “ninja van” selling ice-cold 100-Plus.

Charity works just like that, too.

Indeed, a $10 donation might not make much of a difference to someone’s life but having a hundred people each donate the same amount amplifies the result exponentially – what you get now is something that could help a family!

If you need a selfish reason to be selfless, here’s one: paying it forward provides physical and mental health benefits. I’m not joking. This is a fact that was confirmed plus chop by scientists. Besides, you also get to claim tax benefits.

So, you see, partaking in charity is a win-win endeavour for both the marginalised and ourselves.

But I’d like to think that we should be charitable simply because we can, and because most of you reading this now are very likely more fortunate than half of the people on this planet.

Do you know that, according to the World Bank, about half of the world’s population live on less than S$7.50 a day? What’s more, some 689 million people stricken by extreme poverty survive on less than S$2.60 a day.

Can you fathom having to live on S$2.60 a day?

You can? Don’t bluff, lah.

Your bubble tea alone costs more than that.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to part with your money to do charity – you can “donate” your time or even your skills to helping others.

Take for instance community heroes like Cai Yinzhou, the founder of Citizen Adventures who has dedicated his time to bettering the lives of Singapore migrant workers through free haircuts and a slew of other initiatives. And then we have Melvin Chew, who took it upon himself to help fellow hawkers affected by the pandemic.

As you can see, not all heroes wear capes. In the case of these two inspirational people, all you need is an apron!

LOL Mondays is an ongoing series of slice-of-life stories from freelance writer and NSman Alywin Chew. Look out for the humorous tales which will be posted every first Monday of the month, to help you drive away your Monday blues!

Share your NS memories with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!


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