Complaining About My Shoes

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Complaining About My Shoes

There’s no point in comparing yourself with others, and feeling better than or looking down on another person.

Instead, respect those who are better off than you and learn from them.

And if you cannot stretch out your hands to help those who are worst off than you, do not speak negatively about them.

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.

Just like Singapore, most of the 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 trainings in the army.

It did not sound like a service but more like horrors and tortures.

I was quite sure that he did not share my perception.

To him, the tough and vigorous training was needed to learn how 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 and 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 rigors 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’s common to have five accidental deaths.

He said, “The officers are not unduly concerned 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, and 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 shared with 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, and 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 us in our 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, most of us will come together to defend our country, people and way of life.

I pray that we will never have too see that day.

While I respect other countries’ standards 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.

Majulah Singapura!


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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