When I was in primary 2, our English teacher came late to the class. Other boys kept standing up and repeating out loudly, “Gooooood Mornnnniiiinnnng, Sir”, while I was keeping quietly to myself, like I usually did, minding my own business. I got caught off guard a few times and stood up and mimed the good-morning greetings by force of habit whenever a teacher came into the classroom. But when the teacher finally came in, he picked on me to be the noisy culprit. No matter how I denied it, he was adamant I was at least one of major sources of the noise. He claimed that he was watching us from somewhere at the back staircase. Then he wrote these words on the blackboard and made everyone repeat them aloud: “Honesty is the best policy”.
In other words, to him I wasn't only noisy, I wasn't honest as well. That must have been politics in the making. Someone had to be 'sacrificed' for all that hoo-hah. I resented being made a scapegoat, and I certainly wouldn’t give two hoots about honesty in his terms. He didn't even give me a hearing for justice's sake; simply pronounced me guilty as charged. That lesson alone taught me that honesty means different things to different people. I remember that lesson well because I couldn't forget his face.
As I proceeded through life I found that this kind of situation just kept repeating itself in different settings and to different people. Some fight the establishments that blindly defend the perpetrators who are normally part of the management. While some win and gained some compensation after years of arbitration, others lost and had to start again from square one. Others simply throw in their towels and move elsewhere while the rest learned to ride the waves and survive to gain better heights.
Somehow it proves true that whatever doesn't kill you just makes you stronger. While I learned not to expect fairness always in life, I still try my best to give others a fair hearing and sometimes the benefit of the doubt. Having suffered that painful realization, the good that came out of it is; I'm sympathetic of other people who had to suffer the same fate.
Most of what we learn for life is not carried out in classrooms. In school, later that same year I learned another of life's awakening lessons. Stay away from idiots and trouble-makers. If other people misbehave, being innocent doesn't mean you won't get hurt.
There was a huge sour cherry tree in our school yard. I used to arrive at school early for the afternoon session before assembly and hang around under the tree for its cool shade. One day, a bunch of boys decided to pick cherries off the tree by throwing pieces of wood at them. I was just innocently standing nearby. Suddenly a few older boys appeared from the school building and grabbed one of the boys who was throwing the sticks while the rest ran helter skelter. Before I realized what was happening, I was grabbed as well. Surprised, I tried to wriggle my arm out of their grip while screaming at the top of my lungs. We were brought before the teacher who had earlier ordered the older boys to grab us. While I yelled about my innocence, he admonished us about our dangerous activity, after which we were released. That teacher later turned out to be my class teacher in primary three. He was actually a kind hearted fellow who didn't want to see anybody get hurt.
I love that story by Professor Morrie about that little wave in the ocean heading towards the shore. This wave was moving merrily along until he suddenly realized he was going to hit the shore eventually and be broken up. He was very worried and voiced out his fears until another wave told him he was not a wave but part of the ocean.
In life, it seems we all are a part of the whole. Whatever we do, whatever happens to us, good or bad, it influences and affects others around us whether directly or indirectly. And like that wave in the ocean it will hit the shore, takes something along or leaves something behind and roll back again to make other waves and they in turn make their marks somewhere else.