这是延续了昨天那些数据的同系列专题,新加坡六大宗教领袖的采访报道。读完后,你会发现,所谓 “万教归宗” 不是瞎扯蛋,真正的  神,所要传达给信徒们的讯息,都只有一个字 — 爱。我特别喜欢 The One Person Theory。

时间有限,我就不翻译了。

本篇受访者为天主教的 Father Simon Pereira:58,is the director of The Redemptorist Seminary in Punggol. A priest for 30 years, he lectures on effective communication and also works extensively with young people.

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IF ONE reads the newspapers or watches the news on TV today, the world does seem bereft of peace and joy.

We can turn off the TV and turn the pages of the newspapers. Or we can take the challenge and get involved.

I recently took 60 young people spend a week in Pattaya. They worked at an orphanage, carried abandoned babies all week, worked with street children. Some were spoilt brats, they were put off by what they saw.

Each night, I told them to process what they were thinking, what they thought God was saying to them.

When they landed in Chiangi, they embraced their parents, thanked them for all that they have, broke down and cried.

For many of them, newspaper and TV reports were stories and images far removed from their lives. But interacting with street children and abandoned babies empowered them with the gift of empathy.

All of them have said they wanted to go back and help these folks.

Now that is what gives me hope and joy. When a person can feel for the brokenness and the pain in this world, compassion often takes over.

These young people led very insular lives in Singapore. Their lives revolved around "me, my studies, my computer and a few of my friends".

In giving, however, they learnt that they could receive a hundred-fold.

They experienced an overwhelming sense of peace and joy, and that gives me peace and joy, too, because our hope for a better, kinder and more compassionate future rests with the young today.

Despite the tragedies and confusion that plague the world, I see hope.

I see hope because people are beginning to realise that this planet is slowly going to waste and we must come together and so something.

I see hope in world leaders coming together, trying to understand the meaning of globalisation. I see hope in the Pope going to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, praying with the imam.

I see a lot of hope in Singapore because even though we are small, we can contribute a lot to global leadership. We are a striking example of religious harmony.

But we cannot take things for granted, we have to work at these things.

It heartens me tremendously to learn that the government is allocating $18 million to the Youth Expedition Project, so that our young can go on community service and volunteer missions abroad.

We need to develop the potential in the youth because the leaders of the future are people who can empathise.

We can’t be a selfish nation. That’s why I applaud when the PM said recently that "no Sinagporean will be lacking".

Do I ever despair? Yes. It pains me sometimes to see our lack of social sensitivity and graces. We have the tendency to take one another for granted, we are sometimes too engrossed in our pursuit of the material to look out for one another.

It really costs nothing to smile, to say thank you.

When I see acts of giving and understanding — on the bus, in schools, at home — I personally experience a lot of peace and joy.

I’m a great believer in the One Person Theory. Change begins with the individual. It just takes one person to reach out, bring it forward. The whole business of God is reaching out for one another, loving one another and loving God.

It also pains me when Singaporeans do not realise that they have been given so much by God. If we are given, we must share it with others.

When I look back on 2006, I feel sad over the high rates of divorce. We had nearly 7,000 divorces last year. We have about 350 suicides, more than 800 attempted suicides annually.

We have a whole lot of people whose human condition is lacking and this is very disturbing.

If we can inculcate in the nation the sense that we are all vulnerable and that we must all listen and reach out, we will be so much better off.

Thankfully, a lot of Singaporeans are moving forward and rising to the challenge.

I hope in 2007, Singaporeans will heed the Nike slogan:"Just do it". All of us have a vast reservoir of giving.

Just reach out in compassion and empathy. Not only will you light up the life of another person, you will light up the whole world.

~ By Wong Kim Hoh, The Traits Times, Saturday, 23-12-2006