We cannot all be heroes and thrill a hemisphere
With some great daring venture, some deed that mocks at fear
But we can fill a lifetime with kindly acts and true
There’s always noble service for noble souls to do
(1st verse of the Tanjong Katong Girls’ School Song)
In a ballroom filled with hundreds of alumnae, I sang my guts out as the words of our alma mater’s school song were flashed across the three huge screens. It was our school’s 65th Anniversary Dinner and even though we may not have as illustrious a history as some others, I think we definitely punch above our weight. One of the very few all-girl schools left in Singapore, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School (TKGS) continues to inspire and equip generations of girls to fulfil their potential and make a difference in society.
Why am I waxing lyrical about my old school song? Well, yesterday there was a confluence of various things that brought to mind again how as Christians we are called to flavor and to preserve. Our morning devotion was based on Numbers 14, where we are shown the response to the Israelites who were fomenting rebellion:
Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD.…” (Num. 14:6–9, NIV)
Not long after this reading, I happened to glance at the newspaper on our breakfast table and was inspired by another quotation:
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not. (Dr Seuss, The Lorax)
Okay, so Dr Seuss was crusading on behalf of environmental protection, and I’m not totally sure about his faith leanings, but it gave me pause to think about how we can all stand up in ways big and small for the things that matter.
I’m not sure what was scarier—the sons of Anak in the land they went to spy on, or the raging Israelites who were ready to stone them—but Joshua and Caleb stood firm about what they had discerned from the Lord. And ended up being allowed to enter the Promised Land, unlike the rest of that generation of murmuring Israelites.
Soo Inn and I can recount many stories of our friends who have, with trepidation and pounding hearts, spoken up when they encountered injustice or unfairness in their workplaces. But they brought a flavour of God’s justice (and mercy, I might add) into those situations. Changes were effected that were equitable for both employer and employee. The corporate culture rose to another level of “good” in that journey towards “great”. We’re in awe of their courage and steadfastness, and pray that we can do likewise when similar situations confront us.
Sometimes, though, it may not be such obvious or immediate action-and-reaction responses. Which brings me back to my old school song. Mrs Maude Scott, who was the first principal, and who wrote the song, must have been a woman of Faith. Our school song is sung to the tune of “The Church’s One Foundation”! And this is a government school that is open to girls of all ethnicities and religious beliefs. But if we believe that God’s wisdom is for all of life, then surely His wisdom should be shared with all. So, in the lyrics that Mrs Scott penned, so much of that wisdom shines through.
In that ballroom, together with both old (ourselves and our teachers) and young (current students), we rejoiced to see how a holistic education can raise up women who excel in a multitude of spheres; where book smarts are not the only yardstick for success and everyone is celebrated for who she is. How different this world would be if we can all “fill a lifetime with kindly acts and true”.