YOG is well underway in Singapore and instead of being caught up in the spirit of sportsmanship, there has been mainly negative publicity about the event management and the emphasis on the waste of money to put the event together. This has been well captured by the comments to Brian Koh’s blog here.
As I ponder over the arguments put up by proponents of both sides of the story, I have the following thoughts:
1. If we remember what it is like to be teenagers, we have always resented being coerced by our parents or teachers to participate in anything that does not interest us.
But with the benefit of hindsight, I believe we can agree that most times something beneficial came out of it. Whether it is a newfound hobby, talent or friendship, a weakness we needed fixing or exposure to experiences outside our comfort zones, we always come out stronger because of it.
Why then are we complaining about the schools and government subjecting our children to such ‘forced’ activities that will only happen possibly only once in their lifetime? We need to rethink the way we are teaching and shaping the values of our youth.
When I first heard about YOG coming to Singapore, I wanted very much to volunteer but alas I was still in confinement when they started the training. Had I known they were short of volunteers, I would have still put myself out.
2. The cost of hosting the YOG was initially budgeted for $30 million but has since burst it by a large margin to cumulate at about $390 million. This money could have been used to alleviate the problems of the poor and needy in Singapore instead of organising an international party for youths.
While not trying to sound too mercenary, there will always be the poor among us no matter how much money is dished out to them. That’s just the reality of a free market. We can give them money to pay for their basic needs but this is not sustainable.
What needs to be done is to create a system that allows people to help themselves either through subsidised training or employment/business opportunities. There is just no free lunch and we know that it doesn’t work from examples in US and Europe.
But if we take that money instead and invest it wisely in our youths, not just in Singapore but to a global audience where they can exchange cultures, idealogies, values and friendships, we are sowing seeds for our future. We are inspiring them to learn from the mistakes of their fathers and look beyond color, religion and social strata, to come together to build a better world.
Because the problems we face globally cannot be solved by an individual nation. Everyone has to accept the responsibility and to coordinate efforts to make Earth a more liveable place filled with people who respect different cultures but are unified in their love for God and the human soul.