In March our entire nation, mourned the passing of our first Prime Minister, Senior Minster and later Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew. He was the Founding father of our nation who had led us to independence.
Singaporeans from all walks of life and from our multi religious beliefs united in prayer when we first learnt of how gravely ill Mr. Lee was. Catholics said the rosary, offered masses for him and like wise believers from all faiths prayed for his recovery.
God decided , Mr. Lee needed to rest from his labours. Mr. Lee’s passing plunged our island nation into grief. Many Singaporean were affected by his passing. Most of us felt as if there had been a death in our families. To many of us Mr. Lee was a father figure. He liberated us from the British, fought for us after our separation from Malaysia and most of all improved our lives.
Historically, he took our Little Red Dot and turned us into one of the greatest success stories in the world. With his able team, and his gumption, dedication and commitment of putting nation before self, he led us to our current economic status.
In the days after his passing, we saw Singaporeans often labelled ‘’Kia Su”, ungracious and even selfish at times debunk labels and come together exhibiting graciousness compassion and understanding. A pattern of behavior astounding skeptics and critics during the long wait and queues at Parliament House to pay respects to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew as he lay in state. This scene was repeated at many of the tribute centres across the Island where Singaporeans and visitors could pay tribute to our Nation’s visionary leader.
Why did Singaporeans mourn as we did and put pettiness and selfishness aside?
Yes, we were a nation in grief, but more than anything else we were a grateful nation. Gratitude played a huge role in our behaviour in the days following Mr. Lee’s death. As Singaporeans , we were grateful for the things we had taken for granted, our jobs, homes, education system, health care policies, a stable government, peace and security.
Grateful to a man, who put us on the world map. Grateful for his sacrifices, his hard truths, never wavering in his commitment to Singapore and Singaporeans. We had become like most affluent societies, complacent and taken things for granted , complained on line as key board warriors about little discomforts such as train break downs fare hikes etc. . But in Mr. Lee’s death, we learnt valuable lessons : to be grateful for how far we had come and all that he and his team, past and present had achieved for us. As Mr. Lee himself put it, “What had he gained –a successful Singapore, what had he given up – his life. As a nation we, had shown how grateful we were to a man who led us through some of the hardest knocks our nation had taken.
And so in the weeks after Mr. Lee’s death, the greatest lesson , he has taught us is to be grateful and to pull together as a nation. To count our blessings and give thanks for all that we have . What better time to remember lessons on sacrifices and gratitude than at Easter!