Can Humanity Get Back on Track

19 September 2003

When I was young, it was my ambition to become a medical doctor or a university professor, not an entrepreneur. I have often thought about how my life would have turned out if I had had the opportunity to go to college. I admire every one of you because you are living my dream, and I am delighted that Shantou University is the tie that binds us together on this day.

We live in an age of contradictions. What does globalization portend? It is a world of unified diversity. Every aspect of daily life—economy, society, culture, technology—is going through enormous changes at a faster and faster page. However, there is no terminal in sight for this bullet train, and the people on board don’t seem to know where the train is heading. Globalization enables decisions made in a boardroom to create value or to write off an asset in another part of the globe. Does a balance sheet fully reflect the true value of trade and commerce? The powerful globalization of information enables us to transmit information instantaneously across the planet, but what significance can we attach to such information? Change has become an integral part of life. No one can afford to live in the past. In the struggle for greater efficiency and productivity, life becomes cold and humanity is lost. In our race to stay ahead, we don’t have the time to pause and reflect on a new paradigm to counter economic inequality, environmental destruction, and the threat to peace and humanity.

Human beings are the driving force behind all things. We have the capacity to do good, to do evil, to create, to destroy. We continually enhance our competitiveness in our race to reach a higher plane, which is noble in itself because education teaches us to look forward. Enormous breakthroughs are being made in the areas of technology, communications, medicine, and the life sciences. We possess more knowledge than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we are wiser for it. We can understand the past, but we can’t predict what the future will bring. Almost all of the problems that society faces today are caused by mankind. I firmly believe that education can play a role in helping humanity to get back on the right track.

The objectives of education are to disseminate knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, search for wisdom, and shape character. As members of society, we must interact with society; you must learn to live with yourself as well as with others. Empathy enables us to accept peoples of diverse cultures and backgrounds to overcome gender, age, culture, and other barriers. We must work not only to improve one self, but also to build a dignified society. Otherwise, a harmonious globalization process will only remain a distant dream.

Right now, you may think that love is the greatest sacrifice you can make for another person. In the future, you will know that nothing can be more valuable than commitment. Shantou University will always be my greatest commitment. On behalf of the University Council, I’d like to say that Shantou University welcomes every educator who is committed to promoting education development in China, and every student who is committed to becoming a pillar of society. Thank you.