Adrian Tan spoke at the convocation of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in 2008. His speech was titled: Don’t Work, Be Hated, Love Someone. I found his speech on a blog post that was recommended to me by a friend.
I am quoting some of his speech, as I believe it is important.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.
One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.”
It is easy to be popular, but it also means that you’ve never taken a stand or stood up to any one.
Last summer, I stood up to Ellie’s family, because I care about Ellie and love her–after all, I did ask Ellie to marry me. In the course of trying to get her parents to help Ellie, I confronted her father about his own drinking problem, and he has done everything within his power to isolate me from his family, including Ellie, because of it. That does not change the fact that he is an alcoholic in denial. It does not change the fact that Ellie has a problem with drugs and alcohol.
Even in spite of all that has happened, I believe that Ellie’s mother understands how I truly feel about Ellie and her whole family, even if she is not brave enough to show it. Her last text message to me was:
“Dan, I know you will always be there for us.”
If she believed the lies that Ellie and Ellie’s father have been telling since last June, why would she send me that message. Deep in her heart, she knows that all I have done I have done out of my love for Ellie and her entire family–people I have considered part of my family for almost 30 years, and still do–whether they choose to recognize that fact or not.
“fall in love.
I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.
Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.
Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.
Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.
You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.
You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.
Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.”
I don’t believe that Adrian Tan intended for loving someone and being hated to be part of the same situation. For most people, the two things would not be related at all. That isn’t the case for me. If I didn’t love Ellie, I probably wouldn’t be hated by her family. It is only because I love Ellie that I took a stand and tried to help her.
I love Ellie completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. That is just how I feel about Ellie. I have known her all of her life and love her for who she is–warts and all. I have seen the worst she can be, and still love her despite it all. Even after all she has done these last nine months, I still love her and care for her. Though she is not a part of my life any longer, I hope she knows if she wants me back in her life, makes her amends and shows me that she wants me back, I will be there for her as I have promised her.
I love Ellie more than I love Gee, my late wife. As my friend Brad pointed out, that is likely because I have known Ellie all of her life and loved her in some way for all of it. First, it was as the adorable, if bratty and selfish, daughter of two of my good friends–people I have considered friends and family for almost 30 years. Then it was as my friend in her own right–unlike many people, I always accepted her and her siblings as friends of mine on their own, outside of my relationship with their parents–after all, her parents are friends of my parents. Finally, it was as the woman I love–the woman that loves me and discussed all that being a couple meant for that week after I told her how my feelings for her had grown.
Ellie–the woman that said she loves me–does inspire me. She drives me to try and be a better person than I would be without her, much as Gee did and still does. That is one reason I love her so very much. The fact that Ellie is gone–lost to her addictions and no longer a part of my life–really doesn’t matter that much. That, at least for that short week, Ellie did love me and it was pretty clearly that she was at least considering accepting my proposal before I confronted her about her drinking is what is important. I do not believe she would have asked me about religion, told me what she wanted to name two of our children, or learned to say “Sarangheyo” unless she loved me. She was far too honest a person for that–she didn’t believe in playing games or lying.
Unfortunately, her drinking and drug addictions have been slowly destroying her brain and her heart, spirit and personality. I really do not know who the drug-addicted alcoholic that is inhabiting her body is, nor do I want to. As Adrian says, I do love her completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. I have done what I have to try and help her because of the deep and abiding love I have for Ellie.
I can do no more for her. Until Ellie realizes she has a problem, there is nothing any one can do for her. Until Ellie learns to love herself, she can not love anybody or accept anyone loving her. I believe that somewhere, buried deep under the hungers and tragedy of her addictions, the woman that said “Sarangheyo” to me and told me how she adored Asians with freckles still survives. I hope that Ellie will fight her addictions and come back to being who God meant her to be soon.
I grieve for my beautiful Irish rose, mourn her loss, and celebrate the time we had together, both as friends and as something possibly more.
May God watch over my beloved Ellie. God bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her addictions and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.