The Dreamer and His Reach

08 September 2005

Good Morning, everybody.

I think, apart from my granddaughters, you must be the youngest crowd I have ever talked to. I am aware that I am much older than you all so I will try not to bore you.

I hope Madam Headmaster will not be too disapproving of me when she hears that I want to talk about dreams so early in the morning. Dr. Chan, please do not fret; I too have little appetite for those “daydreamers” who spend their lifetime waiting for good fortune to befall them hoping only for a life of slothful ease. My firm belief is that only those with prepared minds and willing hearts can recognize and seize upon all the great opportunities that are constantly floating around us.

Everyone says that we are a nation of capable, smart and industrious people, then why are we still lagging behind most countries in the West? Is the answer as simple as some say, that it is all a matter of structural or historical problems? I have no answer to my own question. However, I believe we must encourage and support our children to dream large and to reach out for their dreams; it is the catalyst for our dynamic future. I know our traditional teachings cast a certain disdain over “dreaming” as the idea of dreaming does not sync well with the pragmatism of our Chinese culture. We merit the hardworking and the strenuous man. We are somewhat skeptical of those who think outside the box and their aspirations.

There is nothing wrong with this attitude except that to achieve our potential, we need more. In this fast evolving world, the pursuit of knowledge is after all only one factor to human fulfillment. Today, we must extend the frontiers of our children’s minds, we must let them weave their dreams not merely around life’s quantifiable achievements but to be true champions of the modern mind who are not slaves to the thinking of the past and limiting traditional teachings to be merely accepted, repeated or verified, but to test and challenge it with a progressive attitude that enables our past to be relevant to the future.

My young friends, competition in the future will be harsh; the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of labor are essential fundamentals for survival; to excel you must nurture your own independent mind and your spirit of discovery. Are you curious to the magnificence and the power of nature? Do you approach life with great fascination and unbridled enthusiasm? Are you confined by boundaries and impossibilities, or do you dream beyond seeming limitations, dream of what you want to be and dream of what you can be? Does your mind see the connection between different things, be it science in art, or art in science? Are you learned and wise? Or are you like the smart but foolish man who Benjamin Franklin once described as “so learned that he could describe a horse in nine languages but so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride”.

Do you have power of reasoning, pondering before jumping into conclusion? I just want to ask one simple question, have you ever imagined improving on the design of the pc games you play or are you just a player, played by the game?

My friends, all the progress we enjoy now, the power of science, the beauty of arts, the liberation of philosophies all started will someone asking a question, or someone dreaming of a better answer.

Your council has opted for change and wants to develop something new at St Paul’s Co-ed. You have sought society’s support and society has responded. Of course I would like to call again for the government to invest more strategically in education and to improve on the matching ratio to cultivate the strength and pulse of private initiatives in education. Doing so is in the truest interest to the future of Hong Kong. We must build on something more than just concrete and structure; we must strive to enlarge the minds and better the hearts of our young people. I anticipate the day when we will say with great pride that the world has again advanced – humankind has resolved one more problem, and it all began here in St. Paul’s Co-ed with a question in our student’s mind, his wonders and his dreams.

My sincerest wishes are for you all and for your bright future. Thank you.