Find ways to deal with differences

The recent debates over the Central Provident Fund, Pink Dot and the National Library Board's withdrawal of some children's books have clearly shown that people are getting more vocal and are not afraid to make their views and beliefs known.

This is inevitable as society progresses with more diversity and global exposure in the digital age.

What is important is how we, as a nation, accommodate and deal with differences.

If we continue with a divisive and confrontational "us versus them" approach, it is going to rip apart our social fabric.

Is this what we want, and the type of society we wish to see? Do we need to always adopt the "my way or the highway" mindset, or the "if you are not with me, you are against me" attitude when it comes to different beliefs and opinions?

Is there no way differences can co-exist in the common public space?

Is there no way mutual respect and common objectives can be found through better understanding and dialogue despite differences, even if we choose to agree to disagree?

As a developed economy aspiring towards building a creative, dynamic and progressive society, should we not be more open and accepting of differences, rather than be even more prescriptive and narrow in our definition of what is the so-called acceptable norm?

Quek Hong Choon

This article was first published on July 16, 2014.
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