We are constantly surrounded by public education messages.
Whether at train stations, bus stops, or in social media, we are at the receiving end of messages intended to raise awareness about a social or environmental cause.
And to some extent, they have been effective. Today, we see greater public awareness about climate change, and more open conversations about poverty and inequality in Singapore, just to name a few. Straits Times’ Opinion Editor, Chua Mui Hoong, also rightly wrote about the rise of a social conscience in Singapore, noting how discussion on social issues has evolved and matured.
These are joyous news, to be sure, but I am mindful that more must be done. Awareness-raising efforts alone are not enough to better the lives of those who are vulnerable or address climate change. Why? Because we know for a fact that awareness does not always translate into action.
Take climate change for example. We know that our planet Earth is undergoing a global climate emergency, but we still take a new plastic bag each time we make a purchase. We still overorder, often wasting food. And we still use disposables for our takeaways or at buffet set-ups at events.
What will it take to move the needle? What will it take for you to move past sharing or liking a Facebook post on a social or environmental issue, to taking concrete actions such as giving way to a wheelchair user in need of the lift, being understanding towards a colleague experiencing depression, or saying “No” to plastics?
Perhaps there is something to be said about the communication strategies employed by advocates or organisations embarking on these awareness efforts.
But you, my dear reader, can play a part too. In 1 John 3:18, St John tells us, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” If we call ourselves disciples of Christ, we must be doers of His Word, and that includes loving all God’s creation.
The next time you encounter a public education campaign, I invite you to ask yourself, “With this new information, what concrete action can I do today?”
Jorain Ng is part of the Advocacy and Research team at Caritas Singapore. She thinks she should have been born in the groovy 80s and can often be found listening to Abba and Bee Gees songs.