Individuality and Well-being: Values to Acquire

Lilyann Day currently attends DHS and part of the class of 2020. The following was a speech written by her and delivered to her classmates in English class.

Asian countries are well known for valuing intelligence, competition, and perfection. Sometimes, these values are taken too seriously as many incidents occur, like the one recently reported by Channel NewsAsia. The article written by Vanessa Paige Chelvan focuses on the actions of an eleven year old boy in Singapore the morning his parents are supposed to find out about his exam results. On that fateful Friday, the Primary 5 student locked himself in his room, opened his window, and jumped seventeen floors. Rather than facing the disappointment of his parents, the boy decided to take his own life.

Another recent event that may not be as traumatic is the story of Sara Kim. The article, “Do Asian students face too much academic pressure?” CNN writer Jeff Yang draws attention to the series of deceptions that Sara spun about her acceptance letters. It was quickly spread throughout the Asian communities that Sara was given the opportunity to take two years of college in Harvard and Stanford and after those four years, she would be allowed to choose which college she wanted to graduate from. This was a unique offer never been made before and Sara got a lot of positive recognition from it until both colleges confirmed that they never agreed to this offer. It was quickly found out that Sara had faked her
acceptance letters which send up warning signals as to why she believed her actions were justified.

For both cases, the children pushed themselves past their breaking point trying to seek the approval of their parents. On top of that, the competition from the other Asian students was too much for them and the eleven year old child believed that his life was not worth living if he did not score well on his exams. To prevent this continuous cycle, Asian societies must alter their values to care about the health and individuality of their citizens before anything else.

Two of the most important values that society should have is to cherish the individuality of each child and their well being. Focusing on a person’s well being can affect their feelings on life and influence other important values like happiness and motivation. They will be more likely to try new things because they have not been influenced by an emotionally scarring memory in the past. Also, this will make the parent more aware about their child and their changes in behavior. The parent can then act on their belief and stop the child from having these negative thoughts. Individuality is also crucial since this is what makes the world we live in so original. New ideas can quickly be discovered due to the many new perspectives. The acceptance of the individual will finally give them a chance to decide their own future.

Taken to an extreme, any value can be considered unfit for a thriving society. As much as we would like to believe that our parents are pushing us to grow up with the wrong mindset, there is a logical explanation behind their stress for good grades. Many of these parents were not given the opportunity to grow up in America, they came here and managed to create a living out of scratch. Each had to work extremely hard to support themselves in this foreign land. Asian parents believe that achieving good grades will set a habit of hard work for the future. This will make it easier to be hired for a well-paying job, and ease our parents of the worry that we will struggle without their financial aid.

Society should focus on the well-being of their people because their health can affect their goals and unhealthiness can cause chaos in the community. People should want to live a successful life instead of feeling obligated to do so. In Ana Singh’s article “The “Scourge of South Korea: Stress and Suicide in Korean Society”The South Korean Health and Welfare Minister found that “90% of people who committed suicide in 2016 had a diagnosable psychiatric illness, such as depression or anxiety, conditions often caused by stress.” Some people struggle to wake up in the morning because they have practically given up their will to live. They are so mentally drained that they begin to lose hope on their
future which leads to darker feelings like depression and in serious cases, suicide. Focusing on the well-being of the people can prevent these tragedies from occurring. Also, how they feel about their lives will alter how they react to a certain task. People tend to aim higher if they feel like they are a positive impact on this world.

However, health is not just a goal for society to have, it is a necessity. If mental health is not properly taken care of, it will cause chaos in the society. A well known scene toward the end of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is when Roger gets caught up in the fight between Jack and Ralph; he felt “a sense of delirious abandonment [and] leaned all his weight on the lever” (180). After so much time on the island and experiencing so many gruesome events, Roger became mentally unhealthy, making him more prone to push the rock. Making sure a person is both physically and mentally well will make them less of a threat to others. Had his psychotic tendencies been caught sooner, he might not have killed Piggy.  Valuing the well-being of a person not only benefits themselves but also the safety of the society.

Another important value that should be focused on is individuality because society should be preparing the children for the real world and a life lesson that parents must learn is that children are born with different strengths. Asian parents have brainwashed their children and turned them into robots unfit to pursue their own career without the promise of a good grade. Many Asian children grow up “in societies where standardized test results and the colleges that they place you in define your entire life” (Yang 9). Asian communities believe that anything that does not help pursue a stable career is useless. They push for their child to excel academically and outperform all the others. If asked what is one of your main values, the majority of Asians would answer with something related to grades or tests because they have been taught as a child, the higher the grades, the more they are valued. To satisfy their parents, each Asian child pushes themselves past the limit, stressing over a math test that pass or fail does not dictate their future, barely getting enough sleep just to achieve an A.

Does that seem human to you? Their need for good grades has consumed them to the point that they are perfect copies of one another, each wanting the same thing. Their childhood lost to useless textbook pages and one answer questions. Slowly, their personality is stripped away from them as they learn to believe that there is only one right path to take. They have not yet learned that the real world values creativity and only the ones who truly think outside the box are the ones who succeed the most.

Another reason why most Asian children feel lost is because they have certain strengths and weaknesses that may not fit into the general stereotype. As shown in the book, Jack continues to challenge authority telling the chief to “shut up! Who are you, anyway? Sitting there telling people what to do. You can’t hunt, you can’t sing- ” (Golding 91). What sets Jack out among the rest of the characters is his strong personality. He was known as a natural hunter and leader, but what made him so special were the negatives. He, like the majority of the student population has his own strengths and weaknesses. Asian parents have a tendency to forget that not all children are the same. Their mind may not be trained to work academically, but this does not make them useless. These traits are what makes a child so unique. Instead of suppressing a child’s creative side, Asian parents should learn to appreciate every gift their child is given. These special talents can be used to work together to further improve our society. The children should be allowed to express their own personality to discover andcreate new ideas.

Asian societies and families must start to focus on the well being of their children and realize that each person is unique. These values will help them look forward to their future and actually want to prepare for it. It will become something they are genuinely proud of. This positive energy will influence the change in other people and many new ideas can quickly flourish to create a more advanced society. Together these values will create a much happier and healthier society. Together these values will save thousands of lost children from the one size fits all mindset and offer them a way out. Together these values will set a student free from obligation to follow their heart. I challenge my peers to try and break the stereotype, to reshape the future the way we want it to be. Any time you may have the slightest interest in a sport or performing arts, do not brush it away. Take that opportunity to try something outside your comfort zone, because after all, the stereotype can not change who you want to be, but you want to
be can change the stereotype.