Olympic Lessons

How silly.I was watching the woman’s soccer final match,with the thought that it was a live match,and as I was surfing at the same time,I notice up at ESPN Soccernet showing the score of the same exact match as 1 – 0.I was like,huh?It then dawned on me that I was watching a delayed telecast.Sigh.Silly with a capital ass.The Americans scrapped through with a solitary goal in extra time.Damn.Brazil was the better team.But I guess,that’s life.Competence do not necessarily guarantee results.You need that predestined factor in life,called luck.

The Olympics this time around has made me sit up and be aware of several things.Firstly,if anyone noticed,we are at that age where records are no longer made to be immortalized,but instead to be broken.Mr Phelps seemingly godly conquests of the aquatic arena begs the question,”How far can a Man go?”Being crowned the greatest Olympian is by no means an easy feat.What enthralled me was the sheer power of will he exhibited.He willed his might on his aquatic exploits,such that it seemed that the whole physical realm of Man and Nature submitted to his will.Interviews with his competitors all indicated their awe with his sheer presence.Such powerful aura,this Phelps demonstrated.Or what about that Jamaican dude,Usain Bolt.Breaking the 100 and 200 meters record were just plain insignificant,if you were to compare the visual treat you were witnessing as you watched the unfolding race.Usain totally obliterated the competition as he raced so far ahead that he actually jogged to the finishing line in the 100 meters race.These two men typified that overwhelming notion that your mind is indeed the infinito force it was created to be.Because these two men had accomplished all their achievements prior to all the completed events.They accomplished it in their minds.

It brings about a walk down the memory lane of stories,so often heard,like the one of Roger Bannister.The man who broke the four minute mile timing,after which everyone seemed to equal or bettered him.It seemed impossible at one point of time.But once that imaginary ceiling of impossibility was shattered,all it took was for people to emulate the strategies taken,in order to repeat those achievements.I have great confidence that come the next Olympics in London,all the set records will be broken yet again.Who are we to say that a 100 meters race below 8 seconds is humanely impossible?It’s just that no one has done it yet.With time.Come to think of it…even Singapore got on the act of over achievements.

I had a Toastmasters meeting just now at Tampines,and I was deeply impacted by one of the quotes,cited by a speaker.The meeting had a themed subject of the Olympics,and the speaker had delivered an inspiring tale of a Tanzanian marathon runner,who was applauded for his attempts in the Olympics.He did not win his event but apparently he was cheered on by the crown for his dogged grit and will.It was a quote that he mentioned,when asked by a reporter,as to what drove him on the race.He said,“You don’t understand.My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race.They send me to finish the race.”That quote just reverberated within my inner walls of consciousness.Just the right dose of inspiration I needed.I mean,it’s true isn’t it?At times,we are so obsessed with our starting points that we forget where we are meant to end.The finishing line.There was another spoken lesson I got from the speaker.He mentioned that the Olympic ideal was never about winning.It was about participating.He was trying to cite the fact that there were cultures in this world that were driven by the intent of making sure,their participants were well prepared in advance,just for a chance to participate in the Olympics.Think,countries like China or Russia.Their athletes train and prepare from childhood just to have a shot in the Olympics.Admirable.I agree with the speaker’s notion about the pursuit of excellence.It should be a culture and not a lofty ideal.

I read Kai’s recent blog entry and chuckled with glee.It was a subject I just had with my Mom in the morning.Much had been written about Malay teachers in recent weeks,with regards to competencies and setting valued moral examples.I agreed with snippets of what Kai wrote,and at the same time I do maintain the opinion that the community at large is deluding itself down that path of the STOMP syndrome.A month back,it was the lack of competency in Malay language teachers.Now the issue is about teachers brazenly displaying their personal lifestyles online.Next month it will be about teachers being too young.The month after that,will be about teachers not conducting enough supplementary lessons.And the list goes on.But,I was just curious.Where are the solutions?

An issue such as teachers being needed to serve as role models for students to emulate has its merits.But the issue will then be a chicken and egg trivia,because the designated teachers who believe in their liberated views,will pin that responsibility on parents and vice versa.It seems strange that the media,the papers in particular,has chosen to propagate the issue further by printing such issues.Just like the issue of that oblivious uncle yesterday who felt conned,after losing a substantial amount of CPF funds after having it invested by rogue adviser.Claiming himself to be a victim, after receiving monthly funds of $200 from the adviser,reeked of pure ignorance.And the papers chose to publish it as a case of cheating.Why not a case of stupidity?A case of being oblivious?A case of the community being too sheltered such that it breeds complacency?The media somehow always choose to glorify the wrong segments of the community for the wrong reasons.Malay artistes going through divorces are published as “mutual understanding no longer in existence.”Malay artistes being seen in clubs and night scenes are described as socializing.Aunties and mothers screaming and dancing,cheering on for Anugerah singers are deemed as :sporting”And then you have teachers…

I do not actually think that teachers are necessarily looked upon more by students,compared to any other roles,their social circle permits.It’s just that,the sphere of influence the teachers have are much more defined since the alloted time the teachers and students spend are significantly more than that of their parents.

I wonder why,no one has ever thought of setting a union of Malay teachers.Not Malay teaching teacher union.A union that consists of Malay teachers.What this body does is to promote a public relation image of Malay teachers being of sound moral values and impeccable teaching abilities.Thus,if a complaint such as that raised of parents with regards to a teacher’s image and ethics,the papers can publicly publish such reports,and the union’s role is to denounce and disassociate itself from the mentioned teacher.What it does,is that it protects the integrity of the morally responsible teachers and at the same time deterring those who have the intention of flaunting their lifestyles.Lifestyle is a choice and it is unfair to ask a whole group of teachers to raise their moral standards,just because a few camera whores wanna exhibit themselves in their naked glory.When all these while,teachers who had led through example were never formally appreciated or recognized.I am of the opinion that Islam has shown the system of ensuring such moral standards are kept.If one commits adultery,they are to be stoned in public.For the uninitiated,they may ask why?Simple answer,would be,it is to act as a deterrent.When you highlight such methods of public relations campaign,you isolate and magnify the minority in the group.Don;t you agree that you will think at least thrice before intending to do whatever acts again?All I’m saying is that,complains need to highlight specifics.Then only can a strategy be meted out to address the issue.If you write in a forum,citing Malay teachers,you have just tarnished the good image of the 90% of morally valued Malay teachers.Highlight the specific,denounce the offenders and move on.Take a look at the example of the teacher who cited his sexual preference in his blog entry.He was highlighted,identified and removed.The formation of a union that looks into such issues will help.If not it will be a never ending issue.And I can bet that the Berita Harian will still fly away,if blown by the wind,even with such forums.Take the peribahasa,“Buang yang keruh,ambil yang jernih.”Highlight the mentioned teachers and move on.No need to make a hoohah about Malay teachers setting examples.It still will not elevate the underlying problems in the community.If you want a moral centered student,enroll them in the new,joint madrasah system.Even then,there is no guarantee.Point of contention in my personal view is that,there is no basis for discussion in the paper’s forum.If a parent chooses secularism,the secular lifestyle is what they will get from all quarters.

It’s the same as that writer who mentioned that bazaar ramadhan should not be held,with respect to the holy month.One may argue till the cows come home,but the enforcement of such a brilliant idea will never take place as long as the powers that be,Malay Muslim higher authorities,do not comment on the issue.To them,the increase in the monthly collection of mosque building funds are more pressing than the community’s attitude with regards to the holy month.Who are we kidding actually?We are airing our grievances to walls.As I mentioned in a comment on a blog post of a blogger here,I was just asking where the Muslim businesses were in the period of non Ramadhan?Seasonal businessmen we are it seems.I realize that my community always has its priorities in all the wrong places.And sadly,the minority within the community has not been able to make their voices heard.

Well,I guess the quote rings true.The pursuit of excellence should be a culture and not a lofty ideal.As long as we have writers,writing in about what human beings should be ideally,either morally or spiritually,it will be a long,long,long walk down the paths of excellence.

My Olympic lesson lies in that statement by the Tanzanian runner.

And aptly…that famous line by the great Islamic general,Salahuddin Al Ayyubi found below…

Just powerful.

“I am not those men.I am Salahuddin!”

ps:Insya Allah…I will blog about this Muslim general.My hero.

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