As a Chinese Christian growing up, I had my fair share of values being drilled into me. Be it unconditional obedience and respect for elders or to show kindness to my fellow human beings, I am well-acquainted with these teachings that have been highly recommended by many to enlist as my core beliefs. Of those, the most prominent are generosity and humility.
Firstly, generosity-a value so prized it has become part of my holistic education package. The service domain under this co-curricular achievement system ignites passion in the hearts of all youth, sparks student-initiated fund raising events at every school. Six hours of community service a year is a must, not a should. The idea of being generous with our time, effort and money is held in such high regards that schools have only come short of threatening students into it. The multitude of awards and guarantees of higher education institution recruitments beg the question, is it generosity or pretentious flaunts of possessing generosity that society wants to uphold? Generosity means giving something I want to keep to another who needs it. Does anyone need half-hearted and unwilling hands? Does anyone need clicking tongues of sympathy and eyes that gleam with superiority? Smiles that threaten to collapse once backs are turned? While I do believe in generosity, I also believe many of us are taking and not giving, using the needy as our stepping stones to success. Competition was used as an incentive in character building but its rocky foundation has proven to collapse character. As the term itself suggests, character requires building, generosity requires us to have love and empathy, it is unlike sympathy and ambition and takes culture, not lure.
Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost.
– Matthew 9:17, the Bible
Chinese humility is infamous for its sincerity, or lack thereof. Loud claims of gratitude towards the Goddess of luck mask undercurrents of internal pride and smugness that one has done better than the other. Mothers pretend to sigh at their children’s mediocrity while vying for them to reign superior in academics, sports, even height and weight. This virtue is essential to being well-liked, popularity is less likely gained by individuals who acknowledge their outstanding strengths than those who merely smile shyly upon hearing praise. I myself took a few years to learn to graciously accept compliments with sincere thanks instead of dodging them like bullets, carefully manoeuvring the conversation away from these perceived minefields. Let us pause to teach ourselves to take pride in our achievements without feeling superior and to take equal pride were the same success reached by others.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
– C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters
All in all, as many probably are, I am enough to recognise values and yet not beautiful enough to constantly uphold them in true form. However, it is the thought that counts and by His grace, I believe what is meant to come will come. Amen.
Inspired by a school essay assignment question 🙂 No idea how everyone would receive it but here goes nothing.