Living Moments (Part 32) – Complaining About My Shoes

by Patrick Liew on July 4, 2012

I am not one person that likes to compare myself with others. I also do not like to feel better than or look down on another person.

I want to respect others who are better than me and learn from them. I also do not wish to speak negatively about people who are worst off than me.

Having said that, I have always felt there are some virtues in the saying, ‘I complained about my shoes until I saw somebody without legs’.

That was how I felt when I was listening to my friend when he shared about the compulsory military service in his country. All males at the age of 18 years old are conscripted to serve in the army for two years.

Earlier on in the conversation, I thought that their National Service is similar to ours in Singapore. It seemed to be so until he started to share about their life in the army.

It did not sound like a service but more like horrors and tortures. I was quite sure what I perceived was to him, tough and thorough training in preparation  to defend their country.

My friend told me that their men are sent to a distant army camp and may not be able to go home for the whole of the two years. During this time, it is not uncommon that they will be tormented by their superiors.

Some youths will even commit suicide during the service.

Parents are not the most excited about their sons being drafted in the army. They will try to do everything possible to get them an exemption or to take them out of the army.

From what my friend told me, it sounded like the men have to go through long stretches of strenuous trainings. He used different body languages, complete with sound effects to try and impress upon me the rigor of their trainings.

When I did not look too impressed, he stepped up the fear factor.

According to him, when they have a full-scale military training operation, it is common to have five accidental deaths.

He said, “The officers are not unduly concern about the deaths. Sometimes, they pat themselves on the back because the number of casualties have been limited to five only”.

At that point in time, I can’t help feeling impressed.

I was impressed with how National Service has evolved in Singapore.

Today, it is a way of life, a rite of passage for boys to become men.

Parents have generally accepted that it is good for Singapore and their sons.

At the end of the evening, I told my colleague and another friend that the Singapore Armed Forces is also a  credible force.

We may not have a large army or even comparable toughness of training – but we are an intelligent force.

We have an ongoing pipeline of quality leaders,  many of whom were trained in some of the best military academies.

We used advanced technology and we constantly renew ourselves to stay at the cutting edge of military warfare.

More importantly, our National Service has helped in the nation building process. We are more united because of it.

There is a growing spirit of pride for Singapore. When the Recall Sytem is activated, we will come together to defend our people.

I pray that we will never have too see that day. If it does happen, I am absolutely convinced that nothing can stop us from protecting our country and our home.

While I respect other countries’ standard of military service, I am proud to have gone through the National Service in Singapore.

I have made many lifelong friends and have become a better person for it.

On 3 July 2012, My HSR leaders and I conducted a SAF Rededication Day.  We pledged our allegiance to our country and to our people.

Majulah Singapura!


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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