The Little Things that matter Big
Some people say we live in a fast-paced society plagued by the ‘me-first’ syndrome. Impatience, disrespect, and blatant disregard for others. An incurable tendency to escape to the comforts of the smartphone instead of reaching out to experience actual human connection in the real world.
Now picture this. A lovely day out and about in Tampines, filled with nothing but authentic interactions with real people that go beyond superficial pleasantries like “Have you eaten?”. A society made beautiful by the people themselves.
It may seem far-fetched to some, possibly outrageous even! But you might delight in knowing that this may soon materialise into a reality with Wu Jiezhen as one of the beautiful hearts behind the Tampines Kindness Movement.
Jiezhen is the founder of The Hidden Good, a media platform and social enterprise that uses digital media as a tool to start conversations and bring together diverse communities that would otherwise never have crossed paths. It was started during a harsh time of rampant unkindness, misuse of social media and bleak outlooks on life and society. “At that time, STOMP was flooding the web with negative content of various forms of unkindness, surveys published with findings that Singapore is the most emotionless country in the world,” Jiezhen recalls. “We saw all of that, and we were like, okay that’s enough. We’re not gonna focus on all that negativity anymore because it’s not getting us anywhere. It’s not moving us forward.” And with that mentality, she built The Hidden Good and pushed for positive change in society, one social experiment at a time.
To her, being kind means leaving the world better off. “It doesn’t have to be big things, it’s really in the little acts that one does which leave a place, or a person better off,” Jiezhen says. “Kindness is being mindful of how we can make a difference to the world through the little things. It changes the nature of our relationships as human beings, it changes the way that we see each other, the way that we see ourselves.”
With her life so involved around this simple yet curious thing called kindness, Jiezhen has lately been deep in thought about whom she regarded as a great kindness role model. The people that really inspire her are the ones that do a lot of things behind the scenes that most people do not know about. “It’s the hidden heroes, the extremely busy people that just make time to do things that they don’t have to do; these individuals inspire me to be kinder, more generous and to put others before myself.”
That someone so passionate about kindness, community development and education was pulled in to drive the Tampines Kindness Movement as one of its founding committee members, could be nothing else but a destiny written in the stars.
When Jiezhen was approached by Mayor of North East District Mr. Desmond Choo a couple years back, she learnt about the numerous ongoing projects in Tampines that had the same goal of promoting kindness and the art of doing good. “It’s cool that everyone’s doing great stuff, but there’s an issue,” Jiezhen says. “At that time, it was kinda disjointed where everyone did their own thing, so I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be great if we could bring all these individual projects together?”
And bring them together, she did. Different organisations, different entities, different opportunities came together under the giant umbrella of Tampines Kindness Movement, to fulfil the one goal of doing little things that matter big. This reflects The Hidden Good’s key communication principle of meeting people where they are by driving the same message through different streams of communication. “Different people are at different places – some people want to talk about it, while others reject the idea of making open conversations about kindness,” Jiezhen told us.
Besides spreading the spirit of doing kindness through these public initiatives, Jiezhen also believes in the importance of inculcating these good habits from young. Thus the 64-page picture book titled ‘The Little Things’ was birthed. This project kills two birds with one stone – infusing kindness into the everyday curriculum, whilst nurturing the love for reading among children. The main characters in this book are especially relatable and friendly as they are all local food items like kaya toast, ice kacang and roti prata. The kids, and even adults, loved it. They loved it so much that requests to come up with a read-along version started flowing in.
Jiezhen finds this initiative to be a very interesting one, as the children are not being told inherently what to do. Children learn for themselves through the book, which effectively illustrates what an ideal world could look like. It spurs them on to aspire towards that ideal.
Has everything worked so far? Fairly well, Jiezhen reckons. People have started making a conscious effort to do kind deeds – ranging from helping strangers in need, to leaving the place cleaner than when they found it. Tampines Kindness Movement is really about uncovering kindness through gently nudging people towards that direction of mindfulness and being considerate.
As the Dalai Lama once said, “kindness is society” – without concern for other people, society cannot exist. As Tampines Kindness Movement grows bigger and breathes life into our beautiful estate, Jiezhen hopes that they can continue to constantly be open to trying out new ways to do kindness, and to be that catalyst for change by supporting existing communities that are already doing good.