Recently a friend remarked to me that he had no loyalties to Singapore. He simply felt that Singapore had done nothing for him and that he owed Singapore no debt. Given a chance he would probably move to another country or should something tumultous occur within this region he would migrate to a separate country.
I am not sure if he truly meant what he said. Or could he be influenced by a wave of contemporary feelings amongst his peers? I do not know. What I do know is that as he said these words I felt a chill run down my spine. It made me question the value of loyalty to one's country. I won't even define it as patriotism, which seems to be too strong a word. Just a love or a sense of belonging to one's nation. Is it so hard to cultivate? Why did my friend feel this way?
And interestingly enough...why do I feel so strongly for Singapore. What burns in me? Happy and proud to be Singaporean. Why have I felt that my roots are here and that this is where I will build my life. Why do I stand unwavering about my nationality? Why do I feel I am able to stand and defend it if necessary?
By the way...same friend above has a cushy job, drives a luxury car and recently bought a luxury condominium unit. Clearly the notion of loyalty to nation has nothing to do with material wealth.
But...it is not doom and gloom. I still have friends who clearly state their love for the country. And I secretly thank them for sharing my belief for our tiny nation. It reinforces my views as well. One friend always shares how she hears the song "Home" by Kit Chan everytime her plan approaches the tarmac at Changi Airport. Unabashedly...I hear the same song and others as well. And its not just at the airport. At the ports...at the Causeway...coming home inadvertently makes me hum the tune to some good ol' Singapore songs.
Then I also have friends who like to ridicule me if I declare my love so boldy. Which makes me wonder why as well. When is it funny to make fun of someone who cares dearly for his tiny strip of land? Why do you tease me if I say that I am proud to be Singaporean? If you truly do not like this nation...why dun you just leave and find another? If you have so many things against this system and government...pack your bags and find another then. Me? I am happy to work my way with it and around it. I also find ways to critique it and put in my opinions to be heard so that the system can be improved. I have a cause and you have no right to judge me upon it. Then again...I have never been one to care for the jokes and insults of others. So long as my heart bleeds true and continues to bleed the red and white of my flag I have no fear of the small thinking of others.
Here I stand then. Declaring my love for this tiny nation. I sing its song with pride. And even though I may have heard the anthem a thousand times over...I still get goosebumps when it is played. My heart swells with its chorus and yes...I know the lyrics to most of the old national day songs. And should the day come, when cause becomes action, I will draw arms to defend what is my land, my home and my country. I have no recourse about it. I just know it.
I am Singapore, so it is and so it shall be.