As Singaporeans continue to ponder the legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, it would do us well to recognise that Singapore is a product of imagination and human endeavour, a mix of ideals, vigour, fortitude and courage, the attributes that make for superior leadership.
A highly inspiring poem in this regard is “Youth” by Samuel Ullman. It is a poem which highly inspired Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Panasonic, the largest Japanese consumer electronics company.
by Samuel Ullman
Youth is not a time of life;
it is a state of mind;
it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees;
it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions;
it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity,
of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty.
Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.
We grow old by deserting our ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.
Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart
the lure of wonder,
the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and
the joy of the game of living.
In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station;
so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power
from men and from the infinite,
so long are you young.
When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism,
then you are grown old, even at twenty,
but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism,
there is hope you may die young at eighty.
We honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who was a leader and a fighter with a relentless drive to improve the well-being of his nation, and who continued to learn well into his old age.
With his courageous and adventurous spirit, Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed on young at ninety-one.
Will we be young when we pass on? It is a worthy choice we all can make.