Mr Clive Chan, Headmaster

Mr Chan has extensive experience in teaching English to people of all ages and abilities. He returned to Hong Kong after spending years studying and working in Australia. He has taught English in different secondary schools and Business English at a university in Hong Kong.

10We live to be about 70.
    Or we may live to be 80, if we stay healthy.
But even our best days are filled with trouble and sorrow.
    The years quickly pass, and we are gone.

11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
    It’s as great as the respect we should have for you.
12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are.
    Then our hearts will become wise.

The Holy Bible Psalm 90:10-12

Dear parents,

Happy New Year!  This new year is indeed significant for me as I am now entitled to the massive discounts on public transportation after turning 60 last month.  My friends have often teased me about my youthful look, which I take as a compliment, and every time I board the bus with my Joy You card which gives out a different tone when tapped on the fare device, I grin when the driver checks me out carefully, but somewhat to my disappointment, no one has ever asked me to produce my ID to prove my eligibility for this benefit for seniors.  What if they do, sometimes I wonder. What real significance does it have?  Is it something that I can be truly proud of?

The poignant fact of the matter is, however healthy we live our lives, however meticulous we maintain our diet and however regimental we keep our exercise, all our bodies, and absolutely without any exception, are going to expire one day.  As Job, a prominent character in the Bible, wisely commented, “I was born naked. And I’ll leave here naked.”

Generations through generations, the wisest, richest and mightiest have sought a myriad number of ways to stay young and escape death, all in vain. This brutal reality prompted Moses, the writer of the above poem, to yearn for wisdom, which carries a number of different meanings in Hebrew literature, including being learned, skilled, witty, pious, and discerning, just to name a few. With my limited knowledge, wise people who are acutely aware of their mortality should have at least the following traits.

The first and foremost attribute of wisdom is humility. Only a fool would think he is omnipotent, desiring to subdue others by force, therefore causing unwarranted pain and suffering to the innocent masses. If only he is keenly aware that his destiny is the same as those he has tortured, he would be humbled and think twice before engaging in his evil acts rather than live in a constant fear of retribution.

Another mark of wisdom is contentment.  Rather than having an insatiable craving for material enjoyment and asset accumulation, wise people are content with what they have because they know it is a meaningless feat to ‘labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it.”  Over the years, I have seen some parents who toil to provide the best for the family but unknowingly breed the strong sense of entitlement and inertia among their children who lack the ability or motivation to fend for themselves and suffer a low self-image as a result, thereby leading an unhappy life, contrary to the expectations of their indulgent parents.

Wise people also tend to forgive others more easily.  Conscious of their own limitations and shortcomings, they generally choose love over hatred, understanding over judgment, and forgiveness over punishment, therefore living a happier and more fulfilled life.

For this new year, rather than yearning to get my ID checked by the bus driver, I will strive to be wiser – more humble, more content and more forgiving.  May your wisdom grow in 2023 too!


Yours sincerely,

Clive Chan