by Parcsen Loke
My O Level results were not good enough (even though I had straight B’s) to qualify me for admission into any of the polytechnics, so I ended up the Vocational Institution (or VITB), the fore-runner of the ITE. It wasn’t a glamorous place to be especially for those with pride and ambition. This is how I would describe my classmates and I.
Having something to prove – that we were not “gone case” – we all worked very hard; my classmates more than I. At the beginning, I always found myself alone during break times. While I was taking a breather with a cuppa, my peers were burying themselves in their books, trying to stay ahead. I don’t blame them. Add I have said, we all had something to prove. But I also felt that their striving would not be good for them in the long run. It is good to stop and smell the roses once in a while. So I embarked on a campaign to persuade them to go for breaks when it was time for one.
There were Facebook or Twitter back then. Not even Whatsapp. Activism or advocacy had to be done either face to face or by Word of mouth, one person at a time (one class at a time, in my case).
I didn’t want them to neglect their studies. I just wanted then to know that there are other things they should pay attention to at the same time, such as their health. It is a fact that many of the aliments of modern man is stress-induced. If we allow ourselves get caught up in the rat-race, we might win but we will be one sick rat. It isn’t worth it, is it?
“Your health is important!” was my rallying cry. Twice a day (we had two breaks in a day) I would remind my classmates. For the first two months no one heeded my call. Undeterred, I persisted in my crusade, determined to win the hearts and minds of (by now) friends.
In the third month, two of them joined me during the break. Then two became four. At this point, I was not the only one chanting “Your health is important”. We had a quartet and I was their conductor. Very soon, the whole class joined in, all twenty five of us. We became inseparable, except till graduation. All of us did well and went on to study in the polytechnic.
What I have just described to you was the way you can change the world – starting with the world around you. Without knowing it then, I was taping into the power of something called Dominant Discourse.
Dominant Discourse is usually a tool (or weapon, depending how you look at it) welded by the rich and powerful who have the ability to influence trends and policies and… prices. But I believe, and have demonstrated to you, that any one can exert influence too. You only need to believe in your message and never give up talking about it.