A COLLECTION OF TROPHIES
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Extra-curricular Activities on 13 Jan 2016.
Ed: 14-year old homeschooler Fara Ling’s speech at a recent public speaking competition won the audience and panel of judges for her maturity. Here’s what Fara said:
A COLLECTION OF TROPHIES by Fara Ling
We live in a society where winning competitions and ace-ing eleven subjects are a big deal. We live in a society where job positions and earnings count for a lot. We live in a performance-oriented society, where failures are typically thought of in terms of our abilities and achievements: in terms of the exams we take, the grades we get, the money we make, the career we end up with. But we do not often think about failure in matters of integrity, or moral courage, or responsibility.
We think we have failed when we get a Pass for a music or ballet exam, but compromising integrity is not treated as a failure. We set standards for ourselves, then, because we are infallibly human, we fail those standards. We make excuses: “we tried, didn’t we? No-one’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Besides, there are always second chances!” We persuade ourselves to excuse our shortcomings, later we dismiss them. And once we’re lax with ourselves, we’re lax in our dealings with others. Promises lose their gravity. Thoughtless but weighty mistakes are brushed aside. If academic excellence is so important to us, what more matters of integrity?
Another failure we lack to recognize is the failure to speak up for what is right. We fail when we allow our fears to prevent us from standing up for someone who is being bullied, because so often we don’t realise that these experiences aren’t just relevant to our schooling years. If we don’t sum up our courage and speak out against what we know to be wrong now, what makes us think we can campaign “illegally” against unfair elections and siphoned funds in the future? Will we have the courage to condemn what is wrong, when we know we could end up like Karpal Singh and Kevin Morais?
The third kind of failure: neglecting our duties as citizens of Malaysia. We talk about the responsibility to attain a good, stable career which covers the family’s economic needs, yet we ignore, the burden we carry as citizens of a country. Because Malaysia is our home, we have the responsibility to be involved in its governance. By keeping informed about what’s happening around the country. By voting; participating in general elections. And if you wonder why the government can afford to tamper with lights and ballot boxes, it is partially due to the fact that people a few generations back did not do enough to address arising problems. Regarding the TPPA, are we even aware of it? What are we doing about it?
Our performance-oriented society stresses aptitude, expertise, and resume, and it downplays matters of conscience and duty. There is so much emphasis on what we can do, and so little on who we are. We work ourselves dead sometimes for projects and concerts because we’re so afraid to fail.
So why don’t or can’t we worry about honesty and courage and responsibility? It’s time to turn our scrutiny to the failures that truly demand our attention – the failures in our character, because character is what makes us who we are, not accomplishments. And I choose be a person of integrity, strength, and conscience, even if I were to fail at everything else; rather than just being a collection of trophies.
About Fara Ling Shu Sean: Fara loves ballet, guitar, singing, reading, and of course, writing. She’s involved in a million and one things and loving every moment of it!