SEPT: 12: HOW TO DISAGREE
Since young, I’ve been brought up in the traditional Chinese way, like in the era of Qin Emperor. That meant to be obedient to your parents, never talk back, tie your hair back in a pony-tail every day, what your elders tell you is always right, NEVER DISAGREE.
Then I found myself in the international community and suddenly, disagreeing is ENCOURAGED.
Wait a minute, what?
Unsurprisingly, I was an extremely shy and taciturn little girl who agreed to everything anyone and everyone said. Then, facing the identity conflict which all of us here have experienced at one point or the other, I chose to be an international citizen, not Singaporean. (Did Sihui conform or non-conform here?) So, I matured into a young lady who actually defies all Chinese tradition and be that rebellious child who disagrees freely whenever appropriate.
Most people from my home country will deem children who disagree to be rude, self-righteous babies who know nothing about anything. Then, I realize that the beauty of disagreeing is that disagreeing allows us to engage in independent critical analysis that compels us to broaden our scope of perspective. It forces us to always consider counterarguments to arrive to a justified argument. By being able to perceive an issue from various angles, one becomes a more understanding and more compassionate individual. At the end of the day, those provincial minds who think disagreeing is rude will always remain in that one dimension of the world, whilst people who practice the art of disagreeing will enjoy a more vibrant world.
Mr. Macknight just would not stop asking, “What is virtue?”
I don’t know what virtue is exactly. I feel like I know of virtue because I strive for different character traits that are components of virtue — e.g. patient, forgiving, trustworthy, loyal, etc. But I am unable to translate that emotion into words. Maybe virtue is like love and faith; it’s something that only the heart understands. Maybe language simply restricts our translation of emotion into words.
As I recollect my first exposure to Christianity in third grade, I recall that surge of amazement and joy when I learned that Jesus died for me to cleanse my sins, so that I can join Him in Heaven when I die, as long as I become a faithful Christian and keep praying. I think my first attraction to accept God into my life was the pleasant idea of going to Heaven after I die. Also, I have always believed in the greater good and that people should practice certain principles in order to achieve peace and harmony with each other. (I’m beginning to realize that perhaps I was a born Romantic from the start…) I began to open my soul to the ‘Fruits of the Spirit ‘ (love, joy peace, happiness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control etc.) and basically tried to live life as a ‘holy little sinner girl’. (Hmm…’holy sinner’…) The bottom line is, if everyone agrees that the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ weave the web of Virtue, then I think Virtue may perhaps be the name we give for all of the ‘Fruits of the Spirit” put together. Perhaps.
SEPT. 17: INTELLIGENCE
In eighth grade, I set myself a goal to achieve straight sevens with the exception of two sixes on my MYP report card, for the first time. When I accomplished my goal, I felt empty. I felt empty because although I earned the numbers, I felt like I didn’t really know anything at all. I thought, if I were to go through all the exams again, I wouldn’t be able to answer all the questions off the top of my head. I felt uneasy because I thought by working really hard, I could gain intelligence. I realized that I was wrong.
People speak of being ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’, but few know what they actually mean. I don’t either. However, I think what they try to mean by ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’ is most likely one’s ability to perform a task to the highest given scale. Yet, I don’t think that ‘intelligent’ or ‘smart’ is the appropriate adjective because ‘intelligence’ does not play a primarily significant component, after all. Instead, I think people should start using ‘persevere and passionate’ to describe those people that they praise as ‘intelligent’ and ‘smart’. Perhaps ‘passionate’ may not be the most fitting word, but by ‘passionate’, I mean to open one’s heart and listen to it, for the power of the soul supersedes all things. Nevertheless, perseverance and passion are the roots of possibility, then ‘intelligence’ and ‘smartness’ come later.
OCT. 15: HISTORY
I have always turned my back against history because:
1) I start falling asleep.
2) I have an acute case of amnesia for all those names and dates.
3) Why bother? They are all in the past anyway.
On October 15, 2009, David C. McCullough revives from the dead, comes along and knocks on my door to tell me: “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
Then I realize the significance of why people should pay attention to history.
Looking past history textbooks and focusing on a more personal level, our yesterdays shape the way we are today. Maybe not every minute of the entire seventeen years, eight months and thirteen days shaped who I am today, but somewhere within that time frame, different minutes collaborated together to form a foundation of who I am today. Places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, people I’ve met, hearts that I have touched and that have touched me, ideas and concepts that I’ve listened to and studied for, books that I’ve read, music that have inspired me, and challenges I’ve overcome, form an elemental part of me. In difficult times or when I’m blue, my heart unconsciously rewinds the tape of my history, and recollects those inspiring words from a good old friend, those memories of hard work and determination that pulled me through, those moments of laughter and joy with a close friend who left…then somehow, these little events of the past somehow join forces and mold into the motivation that pulls me through a present challenge. Then the present becomes my past. And I keep moving along, using history to make more history.