A visit to almost any country in Asia quickly forces New Zealanders, and westerners generally, come to the conclusion that collectively we are regarded as a little soft and a little on the lazy and fun loving side of life. A knee-jerk reaction to this perception can hide a reality which is creeping over the western world. Asians are hungry for the many goods and services we take for granted, as well as for the life style the majority of our citizens enjoy. They are prepared to engage their prodigious work ethic to get ahead. Nobody in their right mind advocates mind and body numbing, grinding work to get ahead, However, what we cannot afford to let happen is to allow the current young generation to sit on their laurels and hope that they will be able to enjoy the good life without working hard.
Hunger for success, setting aspirational goals, pushing the boundaries, looking out for others, being bold and not lulled into a sense of false security make up the fundamental scaffolding all New Zealanders require. We once had these characteristics, but today they are not so evident in our society, since they have become eroded.
Einstein spoke of the importance of imagination over knowledge, yet do we see this expansiveness in our young people? Does the importance of developing a strong work ethic resonate in the way it could?
The reality of the globalised world is that nobody owes us a living. Those who are curious and enthusiastic will be able to learn how to learn in a dramatic fashion, since they will be self starters, innovators, movers and shakers.
Those families and schools that see the importance of student right-brain development as the driver for the characteristics that produce leaders and individuals who make things happen, they will be the ones who will strengthen New Zealand society. While the various faces of technology will be the tools, the human spirit is the engine room that largely will make things happen. We are part of the Asia-Pacific community of nations. Learning from our Asian neighbours is a sine qua non, if we are not to be left behind.
Patrick J. Lynch