K.O. Mr. Almost Good Enough

29 June 2006

University officials, guests and parents,

I recently reread “Mr. Almost Good Enough” which was penned by Mr. Hu Shih in 1924. If he were a real person, he would be dead.

Admittedly, Hu Shih’s caricature is an incomplete image of the Chinese man, yet this well known gentleman, whose mind and senses are so dulled that “he has eyes but could not see, has ears but could not hear, and a brain that could neither function insightfully nor handle the complexity of reasoning” is vividly still alive and kicking, there is still too much or many of him around.

When modern science has failed to find the elixir for eternal life, how on earth did “Mr. Almost Good Enough” succeed in living so long?

Maybe Hu Shih’s Mr. Almost Good Enough has mutated into a virus, and through its viral transmission, extended its life beyond a single man. This virus is powerful; it is capable of ossifying a mentally agile man into mental immobility, stupefying him into an aimless and most plebeian life without conclusion or purpose. You might still have imagination but it makes you stop seeking, indulging instead in the bottomless pit of finding excuses for missed opportunities and failings, weak justifications that sounded so true but are so deceptive infecting us socially, morally, politically, technologically and economically.

When I reread Mr. Hu’s famous piece, there is only one thing that astonishes me more than Mr. Almost Good Enough’s stupidity of unquestioning optimism, and that is the climate of accepting attitude among his peers. It almost makes me weep with frustration to see intelligence distorted to justify stupidity.

It is said that diagnosis and awareness is half of the cure. “Almost Good Enough” is the malady of the inert, it is an illness of the soul; life is for us what we conceive of it. If you do not desire a life that is chained to destiny, you must remember this, life demands involvement, dare to think, to feel, to seek, to care, to be motivated, to stand up for your beliefs, to live with honor, and to have a heart for compassion and love.

You all know that my family and I left the town that I grew up in, a town that is 45 minutes away from STU, to avoid the perils of war. When I left then I did not know what destiny had in store for me.  I only knew that I did not want a lifetime of beliefs and hopes constructed out of erred reasoning. I will live my life unchangingly and unambiguously to the fullest of my energizing spirit and my human heart, I will never be characterized as Mr. Almost Good Enough, will you?