In the past couple of days, we have seen fellow Singaporeans get all riled up on various matters like the increasing numbers of mrt breakdowns, the underaged sex case involving 48 men, and the responses of a member of the female population on whether they appreciate guys serving National Service upon them. The last one struck me the most considering how I have always felt about the topic.
I feel that I do not require the random female on the street to appreciate what I have done for my country as a former NSF. After all, what I have done cannot be felt, and it cannot be talked about in greater detail. However, at the very least, do not belittle the many efforts that Singaporean men have put in over the past many years in order to build up a credible defence force capable of applying that sufficient amount of deterence so that we can all sleep peacefully at night. Do not, for once profess to understand the sacrifices each one of us made for our nation. Even operationally ready NSmen might not get the full picture of the real work the SAF does.
The SAF is a highly complex organization with many roles and responsibilities. Each person contributes in his way to ensure the smooth operation of the organization. Everything that is being done has its own reasons, and even those who served might not really understand higher intent. Besides, we comprise of citizen soldiers who might have encountered a bad experience with lousy commanders. Else, it might be that they thought they were right in certain opinion but there might be a different reason that exists, which might change their opinion if they know. Hence sometimes the Nsmen vent their frustration online and with friends. This is normal and can be expected. What we should do is to understand.
Additionally, even if such grown men whine, it does not mean that they are weak. Behind that mask might lie someone who never once ran away from any challenge. They might be men who you trust enough to go to war with. I do not know how to explain the feeling when you have people whom you can trust enough to go to war with. Sure, there might be people who try to keng and escape work and duties, but there are also men who finished their service without giving up. For the people who worked hard and didn’t complain, we owe it to them to give some basic formof respect that you would accord to another human being.
After 4 years of university, I rejoined the SAF as an engineer. There are about 19 of us who graduated before signing on. We are about 25 years old and we had to endure through tough, regimental training to be an officer. Sure, there were times we complained as a means to endure, but we all made it through. These are people who, despite complaining, manage to accomplish what is needed. This shows one simple thing, we may complain, but we still get the job done. Social media just made it easier for you to see our complaints, but that doesn’t make us any weaker than our forefathers.
I once saw a quote that goes like this: “No one can make you feel inferior other than yourself”. No matter what others may think of you, as long as we stand firm with our principles and values, no one can make us weak by claiming we are. Let us show them that as matured men, we are able to take the criticisms in our stride. Let no one ever feel that we are weak. Let them know, “I contributed to the safety of this country. What have you done?”. And one day in the future, perhaps we would manage to crossover from being neutral to being truly appreciated and respected. But first, we must not look down on ourselves.