Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lim Cheong Keat, Buckminister Fuller and Rabindranath Tagore

A few weeks ago, sometime around Valentine's day 2009 I interviewed Datuk Lim Chong Keat, renowned architect and botanist and a friend of Buckminister Fuller at a leadership retreat for future leaders. Lim, a polymath and a visionary like his friend "Bucky", read out "Bucky's" last inscription for him on Valantine's day 1983. Lim gifted me a copy of the inscription. Buckminister Fuller wrote:

"Human INTEGRITY is the uncompromising courage of self determining whether or not to take initiatives, support or cooperate with others in accord with all the truth and nothing but the truth' as it is conceived by the divine mind always desirable in each individual.

Whether humanity is to continue and comprehensivly prosper on Spaceship Earth depends entirely on the integrity of the human individuals and not the political and economic systems.

The cosmic question has been asked-


Ninety years before this event, Rabindranath Tagore, another lover of humanity, and his father left Calcutta on Valantine's day to tour India for several months, visiting his father's Santiniketan estate and Amritsar before reaching the Himalayan hill station of Dalhousie. There, Tagore read biographies, studied history, astronomy, modern science, and Sanskrit, and examined the classical poetry of Kālidāsa.

Tagore wrote a beautiful vision for humans, the pursuit of which makes them worthwhile to universe invention.

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

Wish every child in school would sing this in school assembly every morning, like the National Anthem, every day! Maybe that will help us to rise to the integrity "Bucky" asks of us to realize this vision. Datuk Lim knows how in his lovely woods of Bellevue in Penang.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Stranger in Prague

It was more than a year that he was on sabbatical in Australia. His engineering company had sent him for special studies. It was a rare honor in his country. Even elsewhere people hardly traveled abroad like today. After all it was 1988 and he still lived in Czechoslovakia. Right behind the iron curtain.

Now finally after a year of strange experiences, new learning, a lot of English and a long year away from the family he found himself sitting on Swissair’s flight from Zurich to Prague. He was excited about seeing his young daughter who would be barely two. He could not contain his excitement. He struck up a conversation with the young foreigner next to him.

It turned out the foreigner was traveling to Budapest. This is how the travel agent routed the foreigner to make the journey cheaper by a hundred dollars. A lot for the country the foreigner came from. He would have to take the train to Budapest. The train station was in town. Far from the airport right in Prague.

Time flew with the conversation and they found themselves in a long queue of immigration control at the airport. It was the foreigner’s turn. The immigration officer spoke in broken English asking for the visa. It turned out he had none. For reasons unknown the embassy had issued an invalid visa.

The foreigner’s face fell. Then in what appeared to be a long gap of time a new visa was issued, many dollars collected from the foreigner.

He saw the foreigner leaving the airport, visibly torn by the experience of landing in his country, head in search of a way to get to the railway station. Without hesitating he walked up and asked the foreigner to come along. Quickly he got tickets for two to go to Prague. More than an hour later they got off, somewhere in Prague. Come quickly, he told the foreigner as the tram approached. They hopped into the tram that took them deeper into this strange new land. Soon they were off the tram walking two blocks away to a railway station.

He got a ticket to Budapest. Like the airport the railway station was full of military police, armed with threatening looks and guns. He took the foreigner across the empty tracks to the platform across. After what seemed like an endless wait a train came in. He helped the foreigner with his bags and explained the border control procedure waving him goodbye and good luck.

The grateful foreigner looked thankfully. He was grateful for this service. Finding the railway station and then the correct train would have been almost impossible here. No one spoke English, no signboards translated to English! For seconds they held hands, the foreigners eyes expressed what could not be put to words…

He waved the foreigner goodbye. He had to track his way back to the airport. His home and family waited for him there.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Donella Meadows died 5 years ago spreading the message of the Global Citizen. To her the global citizen was all important. The global citizen had a global mindset, not a parochial one. The global citizen had a mind without walls, a world without barriers.

The global citizen is a globizen. No, not a person who globe-trots. No, not a person who lives outside the country she was born in. Although many of them you may call globizen's too!

Globizens are global in thier attitude. they are global in thinking, global in discipline. Globizens have a perspective that is larger than self. They look beyond here and now.

Globizens give a meaning to life that is larger than living. Celebrate the globizens who make living worthwhile.

Are you a globizen?

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