Written by Nick Naej
Edited by Jenkin Au
Photography by Jenkin Au
We have all been told stories from our parents and our grandparents. These stories could be stories of lore, of humour, tragedy. They make us laugh and imagine what it was like by living in that story itself. Above all, these stories are passing down information and lessons from the previous generation to the current one. Without these stories, lessons and virtues that are crucial to the continuity of the next generation are lost in history. Amongst all the people in the world, there are many different ways these stories are passed down – through storytelling and listening, through writing or screen play, or through physical action and inaction. Whichever the way that it is told, it is important that these stories are told, regardless of what people think of their relevance to their lives.
I remember being told a story when I was a child about a fox eating his own child. He was hungry and couldn’t feed his child, and the child was much weaker than he was. If he died and allowed the child to eat him, would the child be able to fend for himself? The child will most likely end up dying in the end, eaten by a stronger animal. So, he ate his child, and was full for a long time. After I was told this story, all I could think about was the poor child and how I hated the fox. But at the same time, I admired the fox for what he did. As little as I was back then, I knew deep down that the fox did the right thing, but I didn’t want to admit it, not even to myself. Little did I realize that a subliminal thought had already crept into my mind, only to present itself when I was older. That thought had already fostered a frame of mind in me, creating a portion of the personality that I have today. The one little story taught me to think rationally, even when it comes to the most personal of decisions. I clearly would not eat my own child because I know that there are more rational solutions that exist.
While it is true that people of any age can still learn a lesson, if important virtues and ways of thinking are not learned at the right time, it will almost never be learnt. The frame of mind of an individual is only open to shaping for a short period of time. After they have developed that mindset, it is very difficult to break them out of that mindset. This time where they are susceptible to learning is not defined by a person’s physical age. The person could be 10 or 50 and it would be all the same. This time is defined by the beginning of when they enter a specific community of people that already uphold a specific set of values. At this point, what needs to be passed down needs to be passed down accordingly so then that person will pass it down to the next generation, ensuring the continuity of something that was held important by their forefathers.
Many important aspects in communities from before are lost in our generation and many more will continue to be lost in the generations to come. Although we have adjusted to the change in values that have been abrupt in our lives today, we cannot guarantee that future generations will adjust in the same way that we have. What if our world takes a complete 180 while we’re still in it? We will be powerless to change anything at that point.