Heroes can inspire society towards progress

The distribution of the book on founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to secondary school students has gone somewhat viral and generated a variety of different responses, including apprehension and fear about a cult of personality emerging ("New workbook for students on what Lee stood for launched"; March 24).

While blind worship of mortal humans is unwise, not having heroes to look up to and model after is foolish.

At the core of successful communities and societies is the need for heroes and for narratives of their lives and achievements to inspire us to live at a higher level.

When we stop having new heroes, the bedrock of our success may be shaken.

As humans, we need heroes to be our pacesetters and to motivate us.

In many ways, we stop having heroes not because we have grown old; on the contrary, we have grown old when we stop having heroes.

We should continue to remember and honour the heroes who have contributed to our success.

Heroes are a reflection of our desire to turn a dream into a reality. They help to define us and inspire new visions. They promote a stronger desire for more heroic acts in our midst. They become models for our achievements and fuel for our motivation to achieve success.

We should each honour them in our own way. Nobody should insist that they know the right way to honour these leaders and compel others to follow.

Heroes are a reflection of our desire to turn a dream into a reality. They help to define us and inspire new visions.

Heroes promote a stronger desire for more heroic acts in our midst. They become models for our achievements and fuel for our motivation to achieve success.

We admire heroes for their stand against the tide of their times.

We are absorbed by the way they defy overwhelming odds.

Yes, they may have flaws, and they may have failed in certain areas. They may even have fallen deep into the pits of life. But heroes rise again to make history and leave a meaningful legacy for us.

Heroes such as Mother Teresa, Confucius, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Mr Lee show us that we can achieve far more than we can ever dream or imagine.

To progress, we need to find and incorporate more heroes into our lives. We need to share their stories again and again, so that we may be truly inspired towards always improving our lives and our society.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Heroes can inspire society towards progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe