Photo of a lift entrance featuring the drawings by school children at an underground train station of Taiwan

By Teresa Teo Lay Yan

Cultural heritage and the arts represent a nation’s soul. It may sound like an outdated statement. Living in a globalised world and with the advancement of technology, cross cultural exchange happens so quickly, we can almost qualify ourselves as ‘global citizens’. However, it is worth revisiting this notion.


Does a nation really have a soul? If so, how do we invoke it?


We may learn from more established countries like America, Great Britain, Russia, China and India, to study how their people went through various phases of nation building in search of their nation’s soul, before they finally arrived at it. For some countries, sadly, it may never happen.


Invoking the soul of a nation is derived from efforts put up by individual and groups, working towards inclusive solutions to problems faced by their citizens, especially in times of national crisis, political struggles, war or other forms of disasters.


Singapore is still a young nation with only 50 years of self-independence. We have passed our infancy stage of nation building. However, there is still a long way to becoming a mature nation.


As we celebrate SG50 in 2015, it is timely for us to do some soul searching, to discover our nation’s soul in the next phase of nation building.

It may have to start with the arts and educating our young about our cultural heritage in pursuit of a nation’s soul.



McLaughlin, C. & Davidson, G. (2002) The Soul of Nations, An excerpt from Spiritual Politics. CA:The Center for Visionary Leadership. Retrieved from,


About the Author

Ms Teo Lay Yan Teresa is the founder and managing director of Dove Doodle Pte Ltd. She writes for the Company’s blog and engages the community through the visual arts. To learn more about the author, CLICK the ‘Founder’s Profile’.