Give all help to tortoises, but don't block way of any speeding hare

The adage "all men are born equal" flies in the face of cruel reality (Levelling the playing field an uphill task, by Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan; June 4).

Even if the playing field is completely level, there will be those who are considered "tortoises" and "hares" racing on the field.

It is pointless to contend whether success is the reward of nature or nurture.

It is amazing how much can be achieved with effort and the right environment. That is meritorious nurture.

But the maximum level of such achievement is determined by one's genes. That is uncompromising nature.

Every hare that is deep in slumber can expect to be outrun by the slowest tortoise. But no tortoise, no matter how persistent, can outrun the slowest hare that is awake.

To achieve the idealist's equality, we either have to demand that all the hares take a nap, or to work all the tortoises until they die of exhaustion.

By all means, give all the help we can to the tortoises. But do not block the way of any speeding hare.

My advice to parents who have high expectations of their children is to accept being less than the best, but better than the worst.

Ee Teck Ee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 10, 2018, with the headline 'Give all help to tortoises, but don't block way of any speeding hare'. Print Edition | Subscribe