Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Hunger and a Balanced Diet

Hunger and a Balanced Diet

When I was a primary school student, I loved geography and history. They were my favourite subjects: Ilmu Alam and Tawarikh, as it was called then.

I liked geography because the textbooks were picturesque and made good reading--it was like reading travelogue. And history is of course full of interesting people and exciting tales of conquests and explorations. When I was in Standard 5 (11 years old), I was a big fan of Napoleon Bonaparte. A classmate of mine worshipped Admiral Lord Nelson. Not unexpectedly, we were always at loggerheads.

But at that time, I thought those subjects were a bit of a luxury--they did not seem to have any practical value. How wrong I was. These days I am such a history and geography buff. When Dr M lamented in one of his speeches on how currencies were being determined by twenty-something yuppies with computers who do not possess a sense of history, I could empathize with him.

After my lower secondary, I was put in the science stream. That was when I fell in love for the first time: with mathematics and science. From Form 4 to Upper 6, my head was filled with theories, theorems, equations and formulae. Those were great years of growth and intellectual development; those subjects shaped my thinking and world view. That's why I'm holding such a geeky job now.

But where is my real love? Is it the sciences or the humanities? I have never been able to figure that out. But then again, why should we even have to choose? The love for knowledge should be expansive and all-encompassing. Every human endeavour is worthy of our attention and study.

To limit our knowledge is to limit the possibilities of life. The human mind has a great hunger for knowledge. And it is this hunger for knowledge that has kept human civilization thriving.

When it comes to eating, we are always keen to try new types of food. And we make an effort to balance our diet. Our hungry minds need the food of knowledge too. So let's also have variety and a balanced diet.

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