Honourable Judges, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The topic that I am addressing today is the crisis in faith – the crisis of losing our own identity in modern China. As our society develops, individualism and materialism are invading our minds. It is tragic to hear that even elementary school students bribe their teachers in order to become the class prefect. It is alarming to see Internet crimes, drug abuse and social rebellions on the rise at a fast pace. It has never been that serious in history that youths are losing their direction of where to turn to. They seem to be standing in a juncture, not knowing where to go and what to do. “Living without faith is like driving in a fog”. If you ask our youngsters what faith is, you might get no answers because we seldom discuss what faith is at school.
So what does “faith” actually mean? Such an abstract concept that seems very few people can understand. True, even in the western world where the concept of faith has been deeply rooted in most people’s minds, philosophers haven’t yet agreed on a proper definition. However, I particularly like the interpretation by Martin Luther King who regarded faith as taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. In other words, “faith” is the belief you embrace; “faith” is the trust you hold on to at the bottom of your heart.
For the past 30 years, China has made substantial achievements in boosting the national income, raising literacy and improving the living standards of its people. Contrary to that, deep in our heart, we seem to beempty in our spiritual pursuit. Some Chinese youths seem beginning to question about freedom, democracy and universal values. Their faith in the kind of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” seems declining. In Hong Kong where a similar crisis in faith occurred, some people criticized the post-80s saying that they are too radical without the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. They resort to disturbing the social order, assaulting police officers, and even our Chief Executive. Personally I think that such extreme actions actually serve no specific purposes, it is an indication of their loss of faith that leads them to go astray.
So what can we do to manage this foreseeable crisis in faith? Literally in Chinese, the word “crisis” means both “danger” and “opportunity”. A crisis actually presents us the opportunity to question our faith, clarify our doubts and strengthens our faith. The famous Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, once said, “skepticism is the beginning of faith”. I encourage all Chinese youths to think deeply about the uniqueness of Chinese socialism. I encourage all of us to think critically about the pros and cons of different beliefs -- be it religious or academic. There is never ONE perfect set of faith in the world. We cannot blindly follow the western faith, nor confine our views against the so-called universal values in the western world. As China is transforming, our path is rugged, full of obstacles. We have to hold firm to our belief that we can tackle thorny issues, overcome challenges and scale new heights.
Ladies and gentlemen, today, on the 10th April 2011, we need faith not because we have to shed our blood on the battlefield against our enemies. We need faith because we play a role in contributing to China’s peaceful, harmonious and prosperous development. As youngsters in modern Chinese, we are China’s future. We have the responsibility to hold firm to our faith in the Chinese socialist community and showcase our capability to the entire world. It is only through our collective faith can we sustain China's continuous developmentand push it to another level of success.
To conclude, don't be afraid of people who have different faiths. When we are asked next time what our faith is, I hope we can all be proud to discuss it and encourage others to boldly embrace the same faith as we do. Thank you.