My significant other has just started working back in her old line, which is in social work, and never is there a really busy time for our fellow Singaporeans than now, when the economy of the country is really battering those who are not ready, or never ever ready, with the worst case scenario that they can ever end up in in this island state. Having to deal with cases after cases of family that is in dire straits of help, whether financial, social, or both, it is heartening to note that even in this depressing state of the economy, the country's management has repeatedly and consistently make it a point to assist the less-privileged and the less-fortunate, with an ever increasing array of goodies, that both seek to help for those who can't help themselves, or to provide those that are more able, a leg up in enabling them to 'learn how to fish'.
In fact I have seen this slow but sure shift in assistance policies that are mostly classified in the latter category, offering those who really need help, to help themselves with the eventual aim that they may be able to wean themselves out of the vicious cycle of a crutch mentality. I guess at times it is NOT easy for one who has been receiving aid, to get themselves into this mental model that what they are receiving are aid that comes with strings attached, but I guess it is a necessary pre-condition so that the society, especially those who does have the tendency to abuse such a welfare system, will be better off eventually, much like what the title of my post suggest.
But on the other side of the fence, I am not too sure though whether this is something that all our self-help groups (SHG's) are working towards to. Paradoxically shouldn't our SHG's be working towards their own demise, towards perhaps a state of affairs where in actuality their very state of existence is questioned, not because of abuse or anything, but more so because they have been able to shift the society towards a more socially sustainable state of being? In actual fact, in my opinion their only need to be around can only be justified if they have been able to sufficiently transform themselves to be beyond just the mere givers of aid, to perhaps to an organisation that looks at how help, if any can be given in a more sustainable manner, and perhaps to look at reducing the number of aid receivers, and increase the number who gives!
Which also brings me to the other argument on the yearly zakat, the compulsory tithe that every responsible Muslim should be contributing to, that has, over the years, been increasing in numbers. This is definitely good news, a great testament perhaps to our greater social awareness to help the others, and perhaps could be due to to a greater resurgence in gong back to the fundamentals of being a Muslim. But on the other side of the scale, we are also seeing more people receiving aid...no I am not questioning their qualifications to receive aid, I mean if they are able to meet the criteria of aid, I am all for it. What I do worry is that there seems to be an ever increasing number of aid receivers, and I am not talking about those who are really deserving, but of the likes like the 21-year old health young man, who just got married recently, and is not able to sufficiently provide for the family because of a few reasons that I should not elaborate. I mean seriously I do believe that there is indeed a certain element of welfarism in the disbursement of the zakat, but shouldn't there also be a certain degree of a sustainable social element that we, as a community can think of to ensure that this is non-existent in the future at all? Hmmm, I guess only a greater degree of social awareness and effort will be able to pull us through to that state of being...!