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1 October 2015

When I was studying Gulliver’s Travels in the graduate school, the professor asked me the difference between yahoos and houyhnhnms.  I said we humans wore brand name products, animals were mostly naked; the class laughed at me (not with me).  At about the same time, like most students overseas, I worried about financial and academic issues.  I talked to my academic counselor who replied, “Because we are human beings, we naturally feel the need to worry, unlike animals.”  I slowly understood what he meant, dogs are faithful to, and are always happy with, their owners who are kind to them, regardless of the owners’ professions or moral standards, not to mention financial and academic status.
 
This brings me to the worries we have been experiencing.  My parents’ generation, of which many had only primary school educational background, worked hard to put their children through secondary school.  Having education, our generation spend all of our energy on owning a property, and do our best to make sure our children will not suffer like their parents or grandparents did. We now tell children to be who they are, be happy all the time, and over-compliment them on participation or small improvement. Slowly, there is no need for them to strive for excellence; they don’t have their grandparents’ or parents’ stamina, will power, problem solving skills, or not even a sense of responsibility. Ask around among your home-owning friends about what they will do in the future with the properties they have been working so hard for, they probably will tell you that they will pass them on to their children. So you see? Our next generation need no stamina, will power, problem solving skills, the sense of responsibility; some don’t even need life skills because parents prepare for them amply, and things are handed down to them automatically.
 
Sigh.
 
Let me end this message by quoting Anne I T Ritchie’s Mrs Dymond (1885): “ ‘… if you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn. But these very elementary principles are apt to clash with the leisure of the cultivated classes. … ’ said Du Parc, with a smile.”
 
Anson Yang