Friday, December 5, 2008

My personal appeals

Cambodian people at the dumpsite of Stung Meanchey

High School Students in Kompong Speu

My personal appeals

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense” Buddha.

In Cambodia, there has been noticeable progress since the United Nations sponsored election of 1993. Now Cambodia is a nation of high growth with vast areas are still untouched by development and where the benefits amass only to most powerful leaders. It is visible that ninety five percent of the top hundredth richest people are the mighty top brass military, highest-ranking police officers, and top government officials. The love of power, extreme corruption at all levels, money, nepotism and selfish deeds are the root of all problems. The fact that we have schools doesn’t mean we have education. The fact that we have pagodas doesn’t mean we have faith. The fact that we have courts doesn’t mean we have justice. The fact we have functioning government doesn’t mean we have democracy and freedom. Mighty and ineffective leaders solve one problem only to create countless others. They live their life based on what they want as opposed what they can have. Freedom is often misnamed permission: the license to pursue their personal desires regardless of consequences.

On the surface everything is in order, decisions are carried out, lives move on, however there is no such thing as “build to last”. Artificial things look real but never grow. Real things look real and grow. People are overly obsessed with how they “look” and undervalue how they feel. They put an overemphasis on getting an immediate remedy, instant gratification while they ignore the problem that got them there in the first place. They love things and use people when they should use things and love people. I believe if there is any real peace and prosperity for Cambodia, it will come through being, not having. I believe quality education is the only solution to the current situation to Cambodia’s problems. Here are my personal appeals about the need for national probity:

To all Cambodian people: you can do one or two things to help bring real progress to our poor country; you can feel anger and frustration and direct it all at the present government, or you can decide to move forward and do the difficult work that needs to be done. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible. I believe “real” progress is attainable. I spend my life pursuing it. I consecrate my life on teaching the vulnerable children and on helping the poor through my compassionate service. I teach children to become responsible and expect them to learn that actions have consequences. I work to create real and lasting change in the lives of children in dire need of an education. Cambodian future generations must be built on strength of character and a willingness to work freely and diligently. I need you to help your kids do better in school. Stop giving them money to bribe government officials and teachers for their basic right to get an education. Set an example for the young generation. You need to teach them what taking care of a home is about, show them you are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. You teach them for the good, the welfare, and the happiness of many out of compassion for all beings. Work conscientiously for the good and benefit of yourself and of others.

To all my compatriots: the past cannot be undone. Things will not get better with anger and worry. There is plenty we can do in the present. Give up your “Position Power” but keep your “Personal Power” for one. Stand up and stand together for our children, our own sense of integrity and worth, and for the long-term health of our country. Speak up and speak together against injustice and immorality. Demand accountability. Be a responsible and role model citizen. Stop bribing the government officials. Volunteer time to help others. Mentor children. Follow the rule of laws not only in words but also in actions. Give. Do charity work. Share experiences, knowledge and wisdom. And sacrifice something to get better things, like helping the poor and the vulnerable children. If we fail to see the consequences of our own action, we will fail yourself and others. When our own home is healthy and happy, others will come to us. It’s like being a good cook, a good teacher, or a good leader. If we are good, we never have to force our food, force our lessons, or force our directions on others. Good cannot come from force, fear and threats. By teaching and sharing with others something they didn’t already know and helping the poor, the vulnerable, we have gained more than we’ve given and realized that hope shines in a world where hopelessness prevails. Hang in there, keep fighting for freedom and justice, raise more hell but don’t forget to laugh too. Anything un-attempted remains impossible. Together we can make the difference. Bring hope to hopeless people.

To all parents/guardians: in Cambodia, the family is the sacred unit of our culture but our modern society creates so many young people without roots. A tree without root cannot absorb anything. It will not survive. Every word out of your mouth, every one of your actions is a lesson to your child. You must realize that you are your child’s first and most important teacher. It is very important that children learn from their father and mother how to love one another – not only in school, not only from the teacher, but also from you. Try to put in the heart of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. All children wanted a family who loved them. So much suffering could be avoided if they really love their home, listen and respect their elders. It is very important that you share with your children the sense of belonging. And yes, there will be misunderstanding; every family has its problems, its suffering. Always be the first to forgive with a smile. There is no situation so bad that you cannot be accepted with an open and accommodating heart. Be cheerful, be happy, be peace. Make sure your children go to school every day. Make education an inherited value in your family, just as family values, traditional values, religious values and country values. It can be a struggle, but the rewards in the long term far outweigh the cost of the short term.

To all teachers/educators: It is no secret that teaching is one of the hardest, most difficult, challenging job, emotionally exhausting in the world and, undoubtedly, one of the most important, uplifting and precious. You can make a direct, tangible contribution to the future of our country and the world by helping young people acquire not just knowledge and skills but also morality. You can inspire others through teaching and learning. Real teaching is not only the subject you are teaching, but also the children you are teaching. Always remember the learner is a person first, learner second. You help them believe success is possible. You teach them to think and think critically. There are two bequests that you can give to them: one is root and the other is wing. There are no instantaneous successes. But there’s no better service than serving helping the youngsters so they can live a better life, good for them, good for the society. Expecting material gain is far away, you are rewarded “parami”(perfection) by the virtue, merit, you gain. This is the biggest remuneration you get. The paramis that you can accumulate by serving the young generation will help you reach the final goal and make your human life successful. You make a lasting contribution. Behind every famous person is a famous teacher.

To all children: wherever you are and whenever you go, get an education. Study hard for your future. Come to school every day. Pay attention in class. Participate in class activities. Ask questions. Always try to do your best. Results don’t just happen; they are the products of time, energy and commitment. Learning is a journey, not a destination. Don’t expect progress without practice. You have to work yourself; no one else can do this work for you because learning is an inside job. If you cannot excel with talent, triumph with effort. It is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day. Winning is not everything, but trying is. There is no secret to success other than hard work, perseverance, and determination. Furthermore, I join my hands over my head to pray that all those young people who have graduated do not carry just apiece of paper with you but that you carry with wisdom, love, and peace. All suffering in this world derives from wanting happiness for self. All happiness in this world derives from wanting happiness for others. Once achieved, education can never be bought, exchange, sold, or even stolen. Value who you are and not what you have. Always try to leave the world a little better than you found it. You have to learn to say YES to your future. You can never have what you want but you always get what you desire. Just as lotuses are sustained by water, so is your learning sustained by desires.

To all: Life’s most powerful forces are invisible. How do we begin to explain faith, perseverance and internal success? No one has it easy. Everybody has a limp. There are moments when we have been down, discouraged and hopeless. We all realize that in life, there will be moments of uncertainty, worry, fear and doubt. We all have to do things we don’t like. We all have our personal likes and dislikes. But at the end, it is just you and what you are made of. There are many families who are living in incredible desperation, there are no easy way out. In the midst of every struggle, there remain only two choices: give up or persevere. Persevere knowing that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for material wealth, this work and that work. According to Gautama Siddharta, we have been created to liberate ourselves from all suffering by accepting the Four Noble Truths (suffering, the cause of suffering, the eradication of suffering, the path to eradicate suffering) and practicing the Noble Eight Path (right understanding, right thought, right action, right speech, right livelihood, right effort, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration). You are what you learn.