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Below are a few most common and popular Q&A. Choose 1 or 2 and, stand by for it. The examples below may change over time, but the main ingredients and arguments stay the same. (See here for current trends of GP instead.)
Q1:Is Talent Vital For Success?
I do believe there is a little bit of talent in each and every one of us, and if we know how to capitalize on that talent, there will be a high probability of success. Sometimes, however, some people succeed more than others because they really do have a lot of talent, which distinguishes them from the lot. Therefore, having talent is indeed very important. However, besides talent, there are many other factors which determine ultimate success, or the achieving of aims and goals in life. In fact, some self confessed ‘talent-less’ people do go far in life, as compared to some very talented others, because they may be very diligent, determined and passionate about the things they do. Therefore, I agree that talent is necessary and important, but it is not all that is needed for success.
With a great amount of talent, there is tremendous potential for one to go far in life, and achieve great ambitions. This is due to the fact that genetic predisposition or superior genes does serve to distinguish a child prodigy or a genius from the mediocre lot straightaway. As a result, more opportunities tend to be open to these talented people, as they would have been viewed as the cream of the crop from a very young age. The famous musician, Wolfgang Mozart, is one such example. Having discovered his amazing talent, his father brought him to places near and far to display his superb musical skills to many different audiences. He was recognized and carefully groomed right from the start. Albert Einstein also succeeded in his field due to his high IQ, and so did Leonardo Da Vinci, the world renowned artist, who was extremely skillful with his paintbrush.
However, having a lot of talent alone does not always spell success. ‘Mere mortals’ like us do have our fair share of a taste of success as well. Furthermore, the great potential of a highly talented individual may not be realized if a combination of factors does not work for him at the right time Besides talent, a person must possess certain qualities, such as the correct attitudes, and also stroke of luck accumulate some experience as well, before he can truly succeed. Sometimes, the right stroke matters too. individual is not given a chance, or has not met with the suitable opportunities, his potential and talent may never be realized, and thus remain buried for a long period of time, or sadly, forever. For example, the famous scientist Edison was perceived to be an intellectually challenged child when he was young. His talent was not discovered till very much later in his grown-up life.
Some right attitudes, which a person must possess to guarantee success, include diligence, passion, drive and humility. I firmly believe that diligence is a very important factor. A talent-less’ but hardworking person would definitely achieve much more in life, as compared to his very talented but tardy and lazy peer. Therefore talent, coupled with hard work, would undoubtedly be a winning combination. Take for example, the famous basketball player, Michael Jordan- true enough, he does have a flair for playing the game and is a rare talent indeed, but he trained hard every day when he was still with his team and playing competitive basketball. This is how all well known sportsmen, talented or not, succeed.
Passion and drive constitute a large portion of the path to success as well. If a person has great ambitions, lives for a purpose, and has a hunger for success, he would work towards his goal with a deep burning passion that could greatly outshine the rest of his competitors. The famous Hollywood actor, Brad Pitt, has always dreamt of being a professional actor since young. Due to his deep passion and love for acting, he even took up many different odd jobs in order to earn enough money for his transition to Hollywood, and hence realize his dream. Despite the setbacks and problems which he faced, Brad Pitt has indeed succeeded as a greatly respected and versatile actor of today.
Another very desirable quality to have would be determination. Even with talent, if a person chooses to give up all hope due to a failure, he will never get to taste the fruit of his labour. However, with very strong determination, and the desire to succeed, nothing is impossible, because nothing can stand in the way of a determined person. For example, our very own Senior Prime Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, never gave up during his path to success. Even when he was very disheartened after the failure of the merger project between Singapore and Malaysia in the 1960’s, he persevered and continued to work his way up to become one of Singapore’s top leaders of today. Sometimes, having a lot of talent may not always be indicative of success. Humility plays a part in ensuring success as well. If a person is very proud of his talent and flaunts it in order to prove that he is the best, he may not earn the respect of the people around him. Jealous competitors may make things difficult for a person with talent but a flawed character, and prevent him from working his way up to achieve his aims and goals in life. However, if one can be very talented yet humble at the same time, one may earn the love and respect of one’s friends, family and colleagues. In this world where interaction between people of the society is very important, it certainly does not pay to be arrogant, especially when one is extraordinary talented. For example, Mother Theresa, however great she was, always treated her followers with humility. That is why, with such a humble and compassionate character as hers, and with the gift to touch the people whom she had met, she could succeed in bringing warmth and comfort to the people around her in her lifetime, and in doing so, successfully achieving her purpose in life.
Lastly, I think that talent should also be coupled with experience in order for anyone to succeed. Anyone, even a very talented person, will still be a greenhorn when he first comes into contact with something he is unfamiliar with. Knowledge, wisdom and skills come with great experience accumulated over the years. Therefore, with suitable experience, people who are talented or ‘talent-less’ alike, will go far in life.
Therefore, in my opinion, in order to succeed in one area, or overall in life, a person does need to at least have a bit of talent in him or her. However, a combination of other factors, such as diligence, passion, drive, determination, the accumulation of a wealth of experience, and less importantly, a certain amount of luck, has to be coupled with talent, in order for an individual to attain ultimate success.
Q2: Is knowledge an antidote to fear?
The twenty-first century is what they call the age of information, what with the mass media, the Internet and various other sources of information being readily available. All this information leads to increased knowledge amongst the world population, about many things and over various areas. With this increased knowledge, can we consider ourselves as being immunized against fear? Fear exists almost all aspects of our lives, be it the social, economic, or even religious aspect, and may be rational or irrational. Thus my opinion is that knowledge cannot be an antidote to fears, as they differ greatly in their causes.
One of the most basic forms of fear is the fear of things unseen an irrational fear of things that go bump in the night. Since our childhood days, we have been exposed to stories of ghosts, vampires, ogres and other mythical creatures through stories such as “Jack and the Beanstalk”, in which an evil giant is defeated, Harry Potter with his enchanted school and its inhabitants, and even Casper the Friendly Ghost. As we grow older, movies and adult fiction come into play M. Night Shyamalan’s “The – Sixth Sense”, “Dracula” and Stephen King’s morbid fiction all represent popular fear-based entertainment. The fear of these ghosts and vampires is common enough in such a large population that the entertainment industry can make a business out of it! Such is the pervading power of fear in one’s life, even if one has full knowledge that ghosts do not exist and that vampires are just a figment of a morbid Bram Stoker’s imagination.
Of course there are rational fears as well, and these can normally be assuaged by knowledge. Fears of material occurrences such as mechanical defaults and electrical slips in the construction and wiring of an elevator, causing it to plummet to one’s death, but the possibility of it happening is real, and of that one should be sufficiently aware. If one has knowledge of the probability of such an occurrence happening (which is, I believe, fairly small) one will be able to function fairly normally and be rational about it. In this way, knowledge can be an antidote to extreme fear, reducing it to a sensible level of awareness.
Some fears are due to inexperience, and these fears will either be met or assuaged by the first hand experience or knowledge of that situation. Take, for instance, the fear most students have of studying overseas, far away from their families and friends, far outside their comfort zones. This fear may well be unfounded, as studying can be an overseas can exciting. exhilarating experience. On studying in certain countries might On the other hand, be more trying in this case the fear of going overseas might turn out to be fully logical and correct. Sufficient knowledge of the place to which one will be going is a good basis for enabling rational judgement as to what the experience of studying there will be like. Thus, fears due to lack of sufficient knowledge would naturally be put to test by knowledge; either that, or the knowledge garnered would be sufficient to help one know exactly what one should be afraid of.
A completely different aspect of fear is that of God, and this fear is intensified, if anything, by the increased knowledge of God’s nature. In the Bible it is written: “He who fears God is wise.” Yet the fear of God in this case is not the fear of a violent, destructive deity, but the healthy fear of God’s retribution upon one’s life and this fear is what keeps one in check. The fear of an almighty God is amplified by the knowledge of what God can and will do to the people who are disobedient to him; also, the fear is based on the realization of how powerful and benevolent God can be, and the more one knows about God, the greater one’s insight. Hence knowledge increases one’s fear of God..
The awareness of a bad economic situation can also lead to increased rational fear. If one lives in ignorance of the economic situation, the downturn of the economy and the devaluation of the dollar, one will not have any economic worries. However, the knowledge of a bad economy would cause one to be more careful with one’s money and investments as one becomes afraid of losing everything. Indeed, it is better to have such a fear than to live in ignorance of the fact, as this would safeguard one against devastation. This knowledge therefore implements fear, which can be utilized in a positive way.
With all the different aspects of fear laid out on the table, it is obvious that knowledge has a differing effect on each one. Knowledge can never be an antidote to all fears; perhaps it could only ever claim an ability to help channel fear into proper dimensions. Also, the nature of man is such that one enjoys being scared every so often; this explains the popularity of things unseen. Certain knowledge relieves certain fear, whilst knowledge of a different kind can increase one’s fear, but no knowledge can completely cure all fear. Thus knowledge is not an antidote to generic fear.
Q3:What area of scientific research do you think will be the most important in the next thirty years?
Human beings have been said to have advanced, technologically, a hundred fold more, over the last hundred years, than compared to how much we have advanced over the previous two thousand years. All these have been achieved, in my humble view, mainly due, to the discovery of an energy resource feasible for massive use by the entire population.
Over the past hundred and fifty years or so, electricity has been one commodity available to most people. Electricity can be said to be the nerve centre at most human activities. Would the search engine Google be use-able if there is no electricity? Electricity today is produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
Our main energy resource, as stated above, is fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are finite resources. At our present-day rate of consumption, scientists predict that crude oil resources would last us another twenty years while coal and LPG, approximately another fifty years. Thus, the most important area of scientific research over the next thirty years would be in the area of energy re sources.
Why we require this research is very clear. As mentioned earlier, energy is the nerve centre of all our activities. Without energy, the world, at least for human beings, would practically come to a standstill. Aeroplanes, would be rendered useless without petroleum fuel, factories would shut-down as a result of not being able to operate. Truckloads of food would no longer be sent to supermarkets for our convenient availability and basically, man would have to backtrack to where he was, two thou sand years ago. Practically all of us would lose our jobs and we have to go back to farming to survive. No one would come to school now rendered irrelevant. Also, farming would not be all that easy. Over the last hundred years or so, man has polluted the earth to an unimaginable extent. Very few areas on earth are suitable for agricultural use, most having been converted to concrete jungles and furthermore, materials which make present-day farming more productive, such as fertilizers and pesticides, would no longer be so readily available if no energy resources are available for use.
Several types of fuels or energy are available. They include geothermal energy, hydroelectric power (HEP). nuclear energy (nuclear fission and fusion), organic fuels such as ethanol, solar energy and energy from solar derivatives, such as wind and wave power, just to name a few. Although at the first glance, one may get the false impression that since there is so much energy available in varied forms, there is nothing to worry about, one may think that human civilization could stretch to infinity, sustained by the above mentioned fuels. However, there are many problems that need to be overcome.
True, many forms of fuels are available but none has yet been really perfected for use by the world’s population. Nearly every type of fuel has benefits and draw backs associated with its usage as I shall further mention.
In the frontline of research today is the area of nuclear fuels. In many countries such as Korea, nuclear energy is fast becoming their main energy resource. It is estimated that 15% of the world’s total energy usage today comes from nuclear fuels. Nuclear energy can provide energy in remote areas where conditions are not viable for laying electrical cables, However despite its advantages, many problems plague nuclear fuel usage. Accidents such as the Chernobyl disaster could occur and many people could suffer as a result. Furthermore, there are problems associated with the disposal of nuclear waste products which are formed after nuclear fuels have been used.
The other most viable form of energy whose use is feasible is solar energy (if not, then choose nuclear energy). The sun produces energy by nu clear fission and it reaches the earth as electromagnetic radiation. 99% of this radiation which falls on the earth, remains untapped. If research could be carried out into ways and means of trapping this energy, mankind is likely to benefit.
Organic fuels such as ethanol are being produced in the Philippines. The ethanol is fermented from sugar in sugar cane and is then converted industrially to forms usable by motor vehicles. However, production costs of these type of fuel are very high and not many governments can afford to embark on this type of research.
To really complete the research into alternative forms of fuels, scientists would have to think of ways to reduce pollution problems caused by the fuels. Citing one example: organic fuels would release a lot of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere worsening the green-house effect.
It would not be easy to find that alternative fuel which would allow humans to ride on the crest of economic and technological success well into the twenty-first century. It has been estimated that the human population would hit 5.5 billion in 1998 and reach a staggering number of 8.0 -11.9 billion people in the year 2020. Providing all these people with a source of fuel for their daily activities is no mean task and what we can do now is to wait, hope and support, to our best possible means, the scientists in their research for that energy resource.
Q4: You have been tasked to be Managing Director of a company. What policies would you implement in the light of the growing consciousness of environmental issues today?
In the growing consciousness of environmental issues, as the Managing Director of a company, I would implement a few policies to help protect the environment and ensure that minimum harm is done to the environment.
The very first one is the location of the factories. All factories under the responsibility of my company should be sited away from residential areas and nature reserves. As the factories give off gases which may be harmful, they should be away from the residential areas so that the people’s health or even their lives would not be threatened by these gases. For example, carbon monoxide given off can be harmful if inhaled in large quantities. In addition, by siting factories away from nature reserves, I would not put the the flora and fauna in danger.
Besides, the factories should have a good sewage system. The factories should also adopt a proper system for removing of the waste materials. No dumping of waste into seas and rivers is to be allowed. If necessary, the waste should first be properly treated and rendered harm less to nature. This is of importance especially if my company is going to invest in a poor country, say, a Third World country which is not properly developed and has no necessary sewage system. In countries which are well developed with proper dumping system, my factories should abide by rules and not dump wastes illegally into rivers and lakes. This is because waste materials may contain toxins which are harmful to the marine life, and indirectly, the human population.
Factories should have tall chimneys. In this way, the gases are released into the sky and the threat to people is lessened. However, before the gases are released, they should be treated and made harmless. For example, the gases treated with slaked lime would make them less acidic and reduce the risk of acid rain.
The products manufactured by my company should be environmentally-friendly and possibly recyclable. For example, if plastic bottles are needed, they should be bio degradable. This will make their disposal easier. In addition, the plastic or materials from which the products are made should not contain any harmful materials. If possible, the raw materials should use renewable natural re sources and thus cut down the use of those that threaten to exhaust earth’s natural resources. For example, if pa per boxes are needed, they can be made from recycled paper. In this way, fewer trees would be cut down. Another policy is the wise use of energy. My company and factories would try to conserve energy and if possible, turn to the use of recyclable energy. The use of solar energy would be encouraged.
I would also introduce policies which involve the whole population in the green movement. For example, if my products involve the use of plastic bottles plastic bags, I would encourage the public to return these plastics to my company and the company would pay them an amount of money. In this way, the plastics can be recycled and the public would be encouraged to recycle products.
Another policy of my company is that the company is to participate actively in the green movement campaigns carried out by the government. My company would sponsor these green campaigns by helping the government in spreading the message of the green movement for example through posters, so as to educate the public and develop the sense of awareness in them.
Besides these, my company would pay compensation if harm is done to the environment. For example, if my company is involved in the shipping of oil and there is an oil leak by one of my ships, I would ensure my company helps to clear up the oil, and pay all costs involved. Or, if trees are cut down for use, my company would ensure that for every tree cut down, we would replant new ones to replace these.
My company would also adopt the policy of keeping the public aware of my company’s activities, especially if there is a leakage. If one of the nuclear reactors under my company has a leakage, my company would inform the public of any harmful leakage of gases, for example, of radiation, so that the public can be prepared for it.
My company would also engage in research in products which are more environmentally-friendly, or new ways to recycle our products, or even new methods of manufacturing the products in a ‘safer’ way, that is causing less harm to the environment.
By adopting all these policies, I would ensure my company would play an active role in the green movement to save and protect the environment.
Q5: People ought to gamble. Comment.
Gambling, for many centuries, has been condemned by the morally-righteous community. On the other hand, people still do gamble in their lives, albeit in different ways. The infamous act of betting is but one form of gam bling. If we expand our scope of view and put aside prejudiced thoughts, then it will be crystal clear how parochial we are to dismiss gambling entirely as betting, spinning roulettes or playing “mahjong”. When we gamble we do something risky which can result in success or failure. Bearing this in mind, we can gamble potentially much more in addition to literally dicing with the laws of probability.
Launching a business enterprise is often a gamble it self. The global economic activity is intensifying and com petition is cut-throat. The global economic scene is highly dynamic and being subject to various market forces it changes fast without warning. Few analysts correctly predicted the buoyant rise of Asian economies or foresaw the severity of the recession currently engulfing the West ern developed nations. Local economic climates are much influenced by the global scene and are thus, equally if not more, susceptible. Therefore, a mountain of risks constantly threaten the investments of a businessman or a league of shareholders. In the stock market, trading is even more speculative and uncertain. Cryptocurrency, (most famously known one is Bitcoin or BTC), stock prices, derivatives, futures and commodities prices are highly volatile and notoriously difficult to predict. This is very much akin to games of chance. If this is so risky, then why should people gamble on launching a company? The answer is that starting and running a business has been an important livelihood for many people.
With proper management and a constant input of hard work, many businesses reward their owners with hand some profits. The returns can potentially far exceed the initial investment the owner sacrificed. In fact, the greater the risks, the larger the profits are, if successful. How ever, the extent of risks taken should be sensibly limited, This is especially true in financial futures trading. In the saga of the Barings Bank collapse, young derivatives trader, Nick Leeson often pulled off transactions with huge risks and earned millions of dollars for his employers and the tag ‘whiz kid’ for himself. The last time he worked, his over confidence in his own ability led him to continue conducting transactions though they successively failed. The mammoth losses he accumulated finally plunged Barings Bank into an irretrievable debt situation. This fiasco clearly illustrates the perils of gambling in business. People should still gamble in their businesses but should at the same time, exercise caution over the amount of risk taken.
Gambling, as in games of chance, does benefit society indirectly. In countries such as Germany and previously Malaysia, lotteries are run by the government. These state-run lotteries help to provide funding for social benefits and to defray welfare costs. The lotteries are afford able and usually cheap so as not to burden the buyers (or rather, gamblers?). In Singapore, the Singapore Children’s Society organises a “lottery” every year too but with a different twist to it. People who “donate” certain amount to the society are rewarded with a ticket entitling them to enter a lucky draw. The larger the donations, the more tickets they receive. Many attractive prizes for the lucky draw are sponsored by local companies. In short it is a lottery disguised as a lucky draw. However, the Singapore Children’s Society benefits tremendously as they receive the proceeds from the sales of the tickets and need not sponsor the prizes. People who participate in this form of gambling are assisting the organisation. This is also a win-win situation for them and the organisation. Hence, people should gamble for the benefit of the organisation.
Gambling is a form of entertainment. Games of chance are filled with an element of surprise. A win is rare but it gives a very thrilling experience when it occurs. It perks one up and frees oneself from the monotonous routine in life. Gambling is unpredictable. The results are random and defy logic, unlike the predictable mind-numbing daily schedule of our lives. It thus relieves tension. Certain types of gambling can actually be enjoyed in a family. In Ja pan, watching horse-racing is increasingly popular among Japanese, as asserted by the magazine “Japan Today”. Many families do go to the racing track on weekends to watch horse-racing. They usually bet a small amount to “try their luck”. However, unlike any ordinary horse-race betting that you know, Japanese take more interest in the horses, the jockeys and the horse-racing activity itself rather than in winning their bets. They in fact turn the activity of viewing horse-racing into a family outing during weekends. People, therefore, should occasionally gamble to entertain themselves.
The flip side is that gambling in this form may lead to addiction. The gambler may become addicted to the thrill he gets each time he wins and becomes a compulsive gambler. Money is squandered in the blink of the eyes and debts start to accumulate till he is seriously debt-rid den. This problem is often compounded, with alcohol ism, for example, and family chaos. Children are often neglected if the parents gamble incessantly. Compulsive gambling has been identified as one of the social ills of society.
Despite the negative side-effects gambling may carry, people should nevertheless gamble. The negative implications of gambling, especially addiction, can be curbed by exercising self-discipline, self-control and prudence. People should realise that they may need to gamble some thing if they want to achieve success, as the maxim goes “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
Q6: “No man is an island.” Give your views on how people depend on one another.
The largely agrarian and village life of our ancestors meant that there was plenty of social interaction and dependence on others in their everyday affairs due to the sheer proximity of their dwellings and the small size of the villages. In recent times, modernisation and the rapid development of technology have to a certain extent made us less dependent on others. The invention of the auto mobile means that we can travel without having to meet. or accost our acquaintances on the streets. Other modern. gadgets like the television have made us less social and we can get information easily without having to ask others. However, even in the context of the modern world, people still depend a lot on each other, as we are largely social beings. This dependence is what constitutes our society. No man is really an island by himself.
If we consider all the material luxuries and the basic necessities like food and ask ourselves how they are made. available to us, the answer is obvious: through the work of other people. This specialisation of labour means that we can all concentrate on our own respective tasks with out having to worry about whether we would have to grow our own food or make our own furniture. Everything we need and are able to get is due largely to the work of others, be it farmers growing crops or factory workers assembling radio parts. Thus it can be seen that we are indirectly dependent on others for our own needs. If at person was to reject this, he would have to do all the work himself, and this is not an easy task if we consider how little he can do to satisfy his basic everyday needs.
This dependence can also be seen in the workplace. If a worker or employee tries to do everything by himself, he would find that his work would be overwhelming and he would never be able to complete it. That is why people have to delegate responsibilities and help each other to complete their work. In this way, they would not feel so much stress and in turn, they could finish their tasks faster and more efficiently. Also, working with others to complete a task can have better results than if one worked alone. More people at work means that better ideas cant emerge and induce a greater level of creativity in their work. The same old boring style would be used over and over again if one never tries to consult another’s opinion. This would be disastrous if we imagine watching the same trick used on television programmes over and over again.
On the social level, dependence on others means greater security. Take for instance our neighbours. They can provide communal support in many ways, like watching over our houses when we are on vacation or even helping us to baby sit. This friendly relationship with those living around us would take a lot of stress from our daily lives if we know that we can always look to help us. Of course this does not come someone to without a price which is our own privacy and in some cases if we trust the wrong person, our own security as well. But if we see the bright side of it, dependence on others can be advantageous to our lives if we exercise i every it properly.
People also depend a lot on others in times of need. In natural disasters like earthquakes, victims have to rely heavily on rescue workers to treat the injured and save those buried under the wreckage of fallen buildings. In villages, whenever there is a drought which causes a shortage of food, the whole community would help one an other by giving food to those that do not have enough or to those that need it more; for example those with big families. Isolation of oneself from others would mean that in times of need and crisis, a person would have no one to help him. Thus people depend a lot on community sup port in dire circumstances.
Besides helping each other in times of need, people also depend on each other for defence purposes as they find strength in numbers. We rely heavily on patriotic citizens who become soldiers or support the country’s military in other ways to defend the country. In turn, they also depend on civilians to provide them with food and other basic necessities. In times of war, not only do we depend on the military to defend us, sometimes militant groups or self defence groups are formed by civilian them selves to protect the country and the whole community. A strong symbiotic relationship exists here.
Down to a more personal level, we depend on others for emotional support. We often look for our close friends and confide in them about our troubles and anxieties. Friends also keep us company. In this way, we depend a lot on them as they help us to relieve stress and they also provide us with support when we go through a bad patch in our lives. If someone finds that he or she had never found the need for friends, then their lives would be a very enclosed and boring one.
Besides friends, our families can also help us in many ways. We depend on our families to give us the right moral and emotional support. Family members depend on one another for advice and guidance. Discipline and moral values are also taught to us through our families.
Thus it can be seen that we depend a lot on others in our everyday lives. However, one also needs to exercise a certain degree of independence as we are still individuals to a large extent. Over-dependence on others for our needs will make us seem like parasites to others and it will become a chore for others to help us. Nevertheless, it is still not a sin, but in fact advantageous, that people depend on one another because in this way, society would become more cohesive and bound together by this inter dependence.
Q7: How important is discipline in your life?
Discipline is the training of one’s physical, moral and intellectual faculties, which, when successful, brings about a state of wholesome orderly conduct. In society as a whole, it is the enforcing agent strengthening the cohesion and stability within society, maintaining peace and order. In my personal life, and possibly in any person’s life, generally, it is an essential value for the attainment of any achievement, and the necessary ingredient for at fruitful and rewarding life. Therefore I feel that discipline is of great importance to my life.
Discipline may be broadly divided into two categories: the kind administered by external to the individual, and the other, self-imposed. Both, be it imposed from without or inspired from within, fulfil the same general purpose namely, the inculcation of certain important values and ensuring the achievement of certain goals.
Discipline exerted by agents external to the individual is commonly done so by government, the proper authorities, and in general, other figures of authority in society. Often expressed in a system of laws, rules and regulations – be they set down in concrete terms or understood by most as an important governing convention discipline manifests itself primarily in punishment and chastisement.
In this form, discipline is extremely important to me. We live in an affluent society, and the abundance of wealth generally tempts those with a criminal bent to resort to dishonest, or even violent, means to obtain that wealth. Not only the rich are threatened; ironically it is the middle-income earners, who deem themselves less worthy of a visit by criminals and thus take less effort in protecting themselves or are unable to purchase expensive security devices, who are the main prey of many petty thieves and robbers. I belong to this middle-income group; other than a consciousness for self-protection, only the threat of discipline by the long arm of the law safeguards my possessions.
Other than theft, other offences threaten me and others in society. General decadence, brought about mostly by materialism and subversive elements within the media-advocating sex, violence and careless freedom – has produced mostly a generation solely bent on the enjoyment of the material pleasures of life; furthermore there has been an increasing propensity among businesses to win over customers through the use of the popular notion of freedom, producing “freedom-fighters” – a generation of reckless and callous teens indulgent within a wild, carefree lifestyle, at the cost of society’s cohesion and peace. Gangs and hooligans must therefore be punished by the law; disciplinary actions must be used as a deter rent against activity which threatens others’ lives. While many would argue that such cultural decadence is a West ern thing, I must argue the East is not free from implication-influence from the Western media may be a source, but Eastern influence cannot have so great a difference from its Western counterpart. Singapore is a good example of a society that has benefited from effective disciplinary action. Discipline, in my life, therefore, is extremely important not only for protection, but for the maintenance of society’s order and cohesion.
Going down the scale, we find discipline employed in a far less harsh manner, yet giving a more far-reaching rod cannot be spared if impact as that used in the character-building years of an individual. Within the family, one wishes to inculcate important values, such as those of respect and diligence. In my case, no caning – fortunately – but chastisement and hard reminders trained my willfulness, and mitigated my bad and respect, curbed my consequently destructive temper somewhat. Within the inline Master’s school, the Discipline Master’s un-tiring eye (like the eyes of Sauron, lol) insists on obedience to the school’s rules – inculcating in the students a respect for society’s order; the teachers’ chastisement re minds students that diligence and determination are preferred instead of laziness and weak resolve my sloth was, to a large extent, removed. Therefore, in my life and I would suggest in others’ as well-discipline is very important.
However, I feel that discipline personally inspired and self-imposed is more important than that exerted by out side influences. My reason: there can never always be an authority present to enforce discipline in every situation one finds oneself in. In many cases, one finds oneself confronted by something to which one must adhere to one’s principles to overcome those obstacle, and self-discipline will lend one the strength to do so. While the externally-administered discipline seeks to inculcate values, self-discipline is a value unto itself. It is more difficult to administer, t far more effective: one naturally. trusts one’s own judgement more than one does others’.
I have detailed how discipline is a deterrent against crimes stimulated by the affluence of our society; However, self-discipline also enables one to deal with other problems that have arisen mainly because of society’s competitiveness. Our society today demands one to continually improve oneself and seek new heights of excellence; the “rat race” gives one the pressure to perform. Even if one were not ambitious, one would feel the need to catch up and not get left behind, for in remaining competitive, one safe guards one’s future. Even without the “rat race” to pro vide an impetus for attempting to achieve something, the ideal of self-improvement must spur one to aspire to achievement. In the road towards the achievement of any ambition from the trivial to the grandiose – one will undoubtedly meet several obstacles along the way. Discipline enables one to plough on doggedly. Handling several projects, in particular, requires much work and patience – often, one is tired after a period of time; half the journey has been arduous and the prospects of going on in this fashion rightly fag the weary traveller and he may give up. Not the traveller who is disciplined, though – he is armed to withstand temptation, and goes on to, hope fully, achieve his goal. The weight-loss programme is a good example – I myself have undergone it and the hours of hard exercise would not have been undergone had it not been for self-discipline. School-life is another good example, and lazing around has always seemed a better alternative to studying and completing assignments; discipline, though, decrees otherwise. I live in Singapore – a country whose economy has recently been ranked the second most competitive in the world. It is where I believe not much allowance is made for slackness, and self discipline is an essential tool for continual self-improvement and security. Therefore I feel discipline is very important in my life.
The affluence of our society has led to many other problems, of which many require the individual to have sufficient self-discipline to handle. Of these problems one is closely connected to the idea of the “rat race”. Competition stimulates the pressure to perform either others’ or one’s own expectations; this in turn encourages people to seek ways to outperform others or simply to reach one’s goals sooner. In many cases, immoral or illegal methods present themselves as the easiest alternatives. Here discipline becomes the deciding factor between the choices one is forced to make. Faced with the temptation to turn to dishonesty and deceit, discipline becomes the scruples of one’s conscience, forcing one to adhere to his scruples and principles. Dishonesty, once found out, has serious consequences – one may lose the respect of his fellow-beings, and his life destroyed or face punishment by the law. Deceit, undiscovered but known to oneself, also has painful results – one may lose self-respect, and be guilt-ridden for the rest of one’s life. Both have debilitating, even destructive, effects on one’s own life and of those around him. Only with plain, wholesome hard work may one see the satisfaction of a good job done and en joy a fruitful life, rewarding not only in the material sense, but spiritual sense. Therefore, in my pursuit of a whole some and rewarding life, discipline is extremely important.
Another problem that has arisen from society’s affluence is the abundance of vices that have grown together with society’s wealth. One wants to escape from the pressure of competition, and the pain of many problems in society, such as those of failure, marital problems, and office politics. Escapism can be achieved through alcoholism and drug abuse, which have detrimental effects on one’s health and future life, risking isolation by friends and family. I am certain that most will find themselves tempted by such vices at some stage of their life, and I am not exempt; discipline must once more avert disaster by strengthening one’s resolve to refuse to fall into such pitfalls.
A problem that I once encountered and which is a side effect of affluence is the marked obesity among the affluence. I was almost certainly among those who suffered this and had endeavoured to shed some weight. At one time the training seemed so tough temptation willed me to surrender. Discipline prevailed though.
All in all, I feel that discipline is an essential ingredient for a fruitful life, inculcating important values and enabling one to attain certain achievements. Often, it is only upon hindsight that one realizes and relishes its importance, for it is only during times of hardship and labour that its presence is needed and used. Therein lies discipline’s supreme importance.
Q8: The importance of having a sense of humour.
Laughter, a basic human action, is important both for emotional expression and communication at the most rudimentary-yet perhaps also most essential – level. A keen sense of humour is a necessary intellectual device to ex cite laughter, both in oneself and others. However relent less are those advocates of propriety in attacking the frivolity of indulging one’s capacity for humour, one can not refute the importance of a sense of humour in various ways.
A keen sense of humour can be both necessary and helpful in social situations, particularly where awkward, tense atmospheres need to be defused for necessary interaction to proceed. Where rivalry or hostility may lend friction to an encounter, humour serves as a lubricant; where unfamiliarity and shyness inhibit individuals, laughter brings people closer together, coaxing further interaction. In general, laughter encourages one to relax, bringing about a harmonious atmosphere and promoting acceptance and familiarity. For example, a quick wit could save all parties from an uncomfortable situation after some possibly hurtful comment. Business negotiations could proceed more smoothly after all the executives have been properly coaxed into a relaxed mood after some hearty laughing. A sense of humour, therefore, could defuse an uncomfortable situation and facilitate interaction amongst participating parties.
Individually, a sense of humour, properly and moderately displayed, gives oneself a more engaging image. That the most popular individuals are sanguine people who spark laughter wherever they go, attracting interested groups, is proof enough for the desirability of this sense of humour. A good sense of humour, though, is important not merely for shallow popularity-it facilitates and pro motes the initiation of an individual into a social circle previously closed to him. Though many shy, dry people survive in socialising sessions, it is the humorous individual who thrives the use of the sense of humour is a reaction to others that communicates pleasure, and this promotes further communication. A sense of humour is, therefore, important for one’s own social exposure and involvement. (Bring in YouTube videos on cats, pets videos, humour in breaking up arguments, etc)
A more specific use of a sense of humour would be in public speaking, where its apparent importance can be seen in countless examples of boring speeches devoid of humour of any kind. A quick, entertaining line in tangent with the material of the speech makes the speaker more engaging and makes the audience more receptive: rap port, therefore, is established between speaker and audience quickly and efficiently. The most serious intellectuals use humour as a tool in speaking. For example, Lee Kuan Yew, the Senior Minister of Singapore, does not forget to spice his talks of national policy with amusing titdbits – where his naturally intimidating countenance is relaxed by some joke, he is to many at his most engaging.
The joke, of course, is not the centre of the speech – it is complementary to it, and the speaker who enjoys him self too much on stage joking is guilty of digression. Nevertheless humour prepares the listener to receive more information, and makes it more interesting to digest.
A sense of humour is, therefore, very important for public speaking. A good sense of humour is also important for stress relief. Considering the stress levels many members of affluent societies suffer because of the “rat race environment, a good sense of humour has become more important. Biologically, laughing relaxes the facial and chest muscles of a human being. Mentally, it relieves the tension and anxiety of emotional pressure, not merely due to work but other factors as well. Where a suitable amount of stress improves performance, excessive pressure has a debilitating effect on both the individual’s health and social relationships, since the individual is often apt to find ways of release. In humour lies an effective and healthy form of release. For instance, many people who return home after work turn to the comics for some amusement before resuming work at home. Moreover, the re laxed state that follows laughter facilitates clearer and more flexible thinking, lending perhaps added efficiency.
In more extreme cases, the individual may laugh merely not to cry; when faced with situations of extreme stress and emotions of a magnitude possibly detrimental to the psyche, one may find in humour temporary escape, lessening the impact of such powerful feelings as severe disillusionment, grief, or hopelessness. In these cases a sense of humour is a defence mechanism against emotions that threaten our mental balance. For example, the filial son who finds amusement in the most trivial things at his parents’ funeral is not necessarily callow and heart less – it may be his way of coping with the stress of the turbulent grief which assaults him within. However temporal or unrealistic, this use of humour tides one over the immediate crisis where one’s emotions are at their most destructive, so that one may deal with these thoughts more securely in the future when these feelings have been more or less subdued.
A sense of humour is also important for one’s proper functioning in society as a whole and in life in general. This is essential to one’s ability to laugh at human nature, which is, eventually, laughing at oneself. This ability to laugh at our own fallibility, flaws and foibles upon reading works that criticize human nature in a humorous light is called upon when one is faced with such work as political satires, cartoons or drama. In recognizing the trouble that plague society, one becomes more ready to accept and face these realities by taking these faults less seriously. In seeing the faults of the world, one also sees one’s own faults – this promotes self-awareness, since one becomes more receptive to criticisms levelled indirectly at ourselves through humour. This acceptance of one’s own flaws may then lead to humility, since one is no longer deluded towards the assessment of oneself. The importance of a sense of humour, therefore, curbs the ego and promotes awareness both within and without the hu man psyche.
In logically assessing the importance of a sense of humour, one may forget perhaps its most important aspect that is, a sense of humour is enjoyable for its own sake; that in spontaneous emotional expression of pleasure, the tedium of everyday life – especially that of the drudgery of work-is relieved. A sense of humour is there fore important for the simple reason of the pleasure de rived from a good laugh, which is satisfying in itself.com
In enjoying humour, sometimes one runs the risk of over indulgence or abuse. In overindulgence one runs the danger of digression – in public speaking one may run off-tangent, while in serious meetings negotiations may be reduced to a bout of laughing, where little productive work is done. In abusing humour, one may inflict hurt on others by indulging in ugly humour, sch as sexist or racist jokes. This may not only pose a barrier to meaningful interaction amongst affected parties, but also promote the persistence of segregation, prejudices and stereotypes. (or humour in the wrong place, at the wrong time, to the wrong persons)
In conclusion, a keen sense of humour is important for a wide variety of uses and purposes. In order for it to be effective, though, it must be reasonably sensitive-for a sense of humour is in essence a sensory device, working in reaction to the world both internal and external to the human psyche, In general it is most important for communication, both emotional and intellectual, and the interaction between man, in a way both satisfying and enjoyable.