Yes, you read it right. The poor don’t need money…
What they really need, is care and concern.
If you talk to someone who is destitute and needy, you see that they need someone who cares for them and shows them concern.
Just take a look at the residents living in rental flats around Singapore. Many of them are lonely, rejected and devoid of happiness.
It is not because they are short of money. On the contrary, they receive subsidies and financial assistance in various forms and amount which to a good extent allows them to lead reasonably simple lives. Non-governmental organisations also step in to provide canned food and rice to them. But yet, if you really sit down with these groups of residents, you soon understand, that they need someone who cares for their needs and concerns.
Which is why, whatever Minister Chan Chun Sing said in the Tanjong Pagar PAP Rally speech on Wednesday was right:
“The most disadvantaged in our community needs more than money. They need care. They need concern…day to day, they need people who can visit them, to touch their lives, to encourage them when they are most down and out.”
Naysayers have taken this part of his speech out of context and misquoted him. But if you look at his speech in totality, you learn that his point is really that, more than money, the disadvantaged really need care and concern.
The story of the good samaritan best illustrates this point.
Once a man was travelling alone on a long journey and was attacked by robbers who beat him up and stripped him of his clothes leaving him to die. Many walked past him and ignored him.
But a good samaritan who happened to walk by, approached the man in need and bandaged his wounds. On top of that, he brought the man to an inn and took care of him.
It would have been easy for the good samaritan to simply approach the wounded man, give him money to see the doctor or get treated and leave. But the good samaritan took the trouble to see to the needs of the wounded man, bandaged his wounds and took care of him. This is exactly what Minister Chan was talking about.
It is easy to propose many brilliant ideas to improve the lives of the needy by giving them grants, financial help and so on. But the dipstick test of whether a man or organisation truly cares, is by seeing to the cares and concerns of the most disadvantaged in society.
And this is exactly what Minister Chan promised in his speech, that the PAP team in Tanjong Pagar “will care for all residents in Tanjong Pagar.”
“We will find the money to help them, but more importantly, we will mobilise the community to take care of one another as One People, One Nation, One Singapore.”
For the poor, having money is essential. But having someone to care for their needs and understand their concern is even more important.
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