Friday, August 21, 2009

Together (There are heroes!)

In my previous post, the one below that addresses the national health care reform debate now taking place in the United States, I made a fairly sweeping attack against what I see as the degradation of American values. What are values? Those ideals that we hold dear. Values that Americans, Singaporeans, Vietnamese, Chinese and others the world over consider important include friendship, work, nation, education, technology and material gain, just to name a few. This is not to say that all citizens of our respective countries, or that you and I, or that my brothers and I have exactly the same views of these areas, but we do generally see the worth of each.

Similarly, "family" is a core value in all societies. However, the way family is defined and value that family is given by different individuals, and within different societies, can and does differ. Here are some "funneling questions" I have on the matter of family:

What exactly is meant by the term family? How does one's family differ from, say, one's tribe? Where are the boundaries of our family? In short, are we all brothers and sisters or not?

There are related issues and questions:

Most of the so-called "great" religions of the world espouse the view that we should extend a helping hand to others, not just to family members. But does that happen? To whom and in what way do we typically extend help? Am I or am I not my mother's, sister's, brother's, son's and/or neighbor's "keeper"?

And just how powerful can the love of family -- be that nuclear or planetary -- be?

In that previous post, I made the claim that for many Americans (not all, of course), individual material gain is more important than social equality/justice. I also wrote that this translates into the widespread belief that it's a dog-eat-dog world where only the fittest survive, and that the government should stay out of the fray.

That is one of my worries about American society (and any society, for that matter). That while we are often far too familial, tribal, national (in short, in-group) focused, the even bigger problem is that we are too individualistic or self-serving, and that we don't envision ourselves sharing this planet and facing challenges together enough.

An e-mail from a friend made me think about this on a different level. She sent a link to a video that, upon viewing, made me reflect on my own ideas of family, support and togetherness (or teamwork) again. It also forced me to reevaluate my sweeping generalization about Americans.

Check out this inspiring Youtube video about Dick and Rick Hoyt, an American father and son team with an exceptional bond, and see what I mean.

If you'd like to see another 10-minute documentary (with audio) about Rick and Dick Hoyt, click here.

There are real heroes in this world after all.


liews_ryan said...

Truly amazing! Dick is an inspiration to all the mankind!

_x_nAp nAp_x_ said...

Dear Brad,

I was greatly touched by this video when i watched it too. The unconditional love that Dick gives to his son earns my respect and admiration for him. He is definitely one of the people who will leave a legacy behind. I feel that the love that he has is the source of strength for him to overcome all obstacles in the race, not only in the triathlons but also in everyday life. In this i realise how perfect love cast out all fears. Thanks for sharing! :)

sherlynn said...

I believe family has broad definitions. traditionally of course it is rigidly defined as a man and a woman, getting married and having a child. but today, this definition has also been extended to groups of people who share common ethnic backgrounds for example, coming together and sharing experiences together, sharing common resources.

to me, i choose to adhere to the tradition and strongly believe in family love. for home is the only place people can truly be themselves. don't you agree? (:

the video is amazing.

Vicky Tiantian Liu said...
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Vicky Tiantian Liu said...

Hi Brad,

The video is inspiring. It shows not only the unconditional love between father and son, but also shows that the family, being a core value in societies, is the ultimate foundation for the child's self-esteem and confidence. The story between Dick and Rick won't be so beautiful if Dick didn't go along side with his son.

The story changes my perception of many American families being non-supportive. I was told somehow that American family doesn't care for their child after they are 18 years old. The child has to be kicked out of house and must live on his own. The story, however, represents a high mores in the American society and I think it would go on to inspire more and more people like me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

The first time i watched this video,i was greatly touched.Some tasks are best accomplished when working with others.We can motivate each other and bring out the best in a person.

I feel that in today's society,the definition of family extends so broadly that we find it natural for children to acknowledge "godparents".Even close friends could intergrate to become "our family".

Personally i feel that this natural evolution may not be a bad thing. The important thing is their influence and the kind of support they offer.


XiuLing said...
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XiuLing said...

Hi Brad,

I think the conventional definition of family is confined to a group of people related by blood. However, I think as the society progresses, we begin to find the inclusion of more non-blood related people into our family. I guess this is due to the common memories and experiences people share which have the similar bonding effect as the blood ties.

And I think the video is really great! I used to think marathon is a very individualistic sports as I run marathon as well. However, after watching the video, I realised that I have never actually completed a marathon on my own. My friends and family were there with me throughout the entire race. Though they were not physically present at the race, I have their support and it is this 'togetherness' which enabled me to persevere to the finishing line.

Pei En said...

WOW!!! I'm so overwhelmed by that video. It really says a lot about the strength of the bond between father and son, the lengths that people who are (spiritually, perhaps) bonded to each other, go. I'm so so overwhelmed. I only hope that I have fostered such strong bonds between me and my loved ones so that their love and support can tide me through tough times.

Peiling said...

Hi Brad,

There is so much to learn from the inspirational father. The unconditional love he has for his son touched my heart deeply. The father’s determination made me understand that nothing is impossible as long as we don’t give up trying. We must always remind ourselves that our families and friends are here for us no matter what.

The story also reminds me the importance of bonding with our love ones, which may be neglected by many. This is especially true in the fast-paced society today, where people are busy with work and other commitments. However, it is never too late to show care and concern to our love ones. After all, love is life’s greatest blessing, isn’t it?

Thank you for sharing such an amazing video!

lewis-es2007s said...

hi Brad,

After watching the inspiring video about dick and rick father-son love, i do really feel touched. I am also glad there is still such true touching stories in the world not to mention in the American society. However, this video had me pondering on a question, " If i am in Dick's shoe, would i be doing the same thing as to openly accept my son's condition?" Honestly speaking, i find it hard to accept it like most people do.

In today's society, the lifestyle of the people are becoming hectic and fast paced. This leaves little time for people to show their love for each other and build strong relationships. Family values are eroding as well. The words, 'filial piety' or 'family love' are being taken for granted nowadays. This could be due to people becoming more individualistic and thus neglecting the loved ones around them. Family unity is important as shown from the video when dick and rick motivates each other by being in the races together. Perhaps more people should look at the video and understand the importance of family support.

+^ReBeCcA^+ said...

Hello Brad! =)

Just like everyone else, I was really touched by the video. I especially like the later part of the video which acknowledged the respective important roles of Dick and Rick for the race. In this practical and fast-paced life, I feel that we often neglect things that are beyond the surface. We forget that love and determination is the basis of making impossible things possible.

I totally agree to your comment that the world is not facing challenges together enough. We can do better that what we are doing now. Helping others like we help ourselves is an idealistic view. But, I believe if we put in more effort, we could be at least nearer to the goal. The effect of teamwork is not just purely additive results of individuals. It is actually an enhanced synergistic effect.

Words and actions are much more powerful that one can imagine. A simple sentence from Rick, expressing his wish to run, motivated the Father a great deal. Thanks for the great sharing! =)

Sarah Lah said...

Hi Brad!

Wow! I really like the video. I really almost cried after seeing how strong-willed the father was! Unbelievable!

On a side note, I think perhaps your statements can apply to the rest of the world, not only Americans. A lot of us still do not have the we-face-challenges-together mindset! Maybe a good example is how pathetic our environment is? In NUS, especially from what I see in hostels, students nowadays do not see the importance in saving electricity by switching off lights and fans when they leave their rooms. It's a bit saddening.

Huahua said...

Hi Sensei,

The video had warmed my heart. For me, family is someone who has my back no matter what happens. My mother once told me, if there is no one to trust, you can always trust family.

Survival of the fittest had been the #1 rule anywhere. That is why having to go home and know that someone is waiting had been the source of pushing me even further.

Ruth mentioned that motivation can bring the best in a person, I like to think that we are influenced by the goodness they spread.


~ Yuanhua ~

jiamin_88 said...

Hi Brad,

The unconditional love that Dick gave to Rick is amazing. Without Rick, Dick might not have the will to finish the marathons and triathlons. Without Dick, Rick would not be able to realise his dreams of participating in marathons.

It reminds me of the care and concern that my parents have given me. All parents are similar in a way. They want the best for their children and will do their utmost to help them achieve their goals.


Jake Nguyen Thanh Long said...


I am definitely stunned by the video. I just feel kinda... missing home.

In my perspective, family is the most peaceful place when i can find comfort and relaxation anytime I want. The rushing and busy life nowadays actually cause the family value and love become forgotten in our mind.

Now I can understand a bit more when parents often tell me "No one could help you in the real crisis except for parents". Almost all of things parents create and build up are for their children, but the tragedy usually happens, say, chidren leave parents alone when parents are aged !

Young people have our own perspective and thinking of this changing world, the dynamic life has actually folded the family value at some times, in somewhere in the world. For us, please just spend one minute to think of what we have received from family and consider what we actually give back !

For me, now I am gonna call back to my home and talk to daddy and mommy. Just a simple call, but a bunch of love and care inside, trust me !


Ivan's chill-out corner said...

Hello Sensei! After reading this post “Together”, a couple of questions popped up in my head. I begun to ask myself, what is the true definition of ‘family’ in my heart and to what extent am I going to sacrifice for my ‘family’? Conventionally, most will say that family will consists of either your spouse and offspring, or those that are related to you by blood ties. Moreover, we ARE supposed to brave all adversities with our ‘family’, aren’t we? However, I learnt that family also constitutes everyone else, regardless of ethnicity, beliefs and differing religious views.
As a Roman Catholic, I used to go for Sunday classes whereby I was taught the moral values in the Bible. Some of the important issues, still ongoing, were the unity of different religions and moral issues pertaining to one’s willingness to offer help to those in need. One shall never judge others based on their colour, cultural difference or religious belief. Instead, we should learn to love one another and appreciate the diversity in culture. Let’s think about the past, how civil wars occurred and the countless riots over a mere issue of colour difference. I mean, no culture or race in this world is perfect, am I not right to say that?
The video ‘Journey of life together’ depicts a good example of how family members must always be by each other’s side. Nothing beats kinship and also, love between one another around the world. Perhaps a deeper understanding in this topic can alleviate the tensed issues around the world that are stirring up potential pre-war conflicts. Hopefully people, those with great powers, can really do something about that and the best thing will be to improve literacy rates around the world. Ignorance is bliss, but ignorance is the root of all misunderstanding in my point of view. We can definitely not get any bliss around the world without proper education.

AbbyWhy? said...

Hello Brad,

Thank you for sharing the video link with us. The love shown between father and son is very touching and is a lovely reminder that unconditional love still exists in this jaded world.

While I agree that some people in the world may be self-serving and 'help' others merely for the recogniton they receive, there are still others who humbly serve the community with no ulterior motives. And that is something we can cling to.

Joshua Chng said...

This is a question that has occurred to me before: How powerful should the love of family be?

Should we value our family more than we value our friends? If so, why? Is it because we spend a lot of time with our families? If so, then what if we spend more time with our friends than with our family? Is it because our family will give us help when we need it? Well, aren't true friends expected to do the same? Is it because we're related to our family by blood? If so, then what about adopted children and relations by marriage?

I'm not saying I don't believe in the importance of family, because I do. But, why do people value it so highly?

I think family should be more than just parents, children, and siblings. I think family should include your friends, too, since good friends can be as much a part of your life as your blood relations are.

Kesleen said...
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Kesleen said...

Hi Brad,

this is actually the second time I watched this video, but I still feel strongly inspired by it.

The first time I watched it, I gave Dick Hoyt all the credit. I thought, "What an awesome dad!", "Look how much he has done for his son!" etc. However, I felt different this time. I'm guilty. Perhaps because I had overlooked the fact that his son, Rick Hoyt, had actually done much more for his dad in comparison.

Now, why do I say so? Making a public appearance will attract much attention given his condition. I am sure all the glaring and staring, and fingers-pointing, will definitely make one uncomfortable. Even I feel uneasy when someone stares at me for more than 3 seconds, let alone someone like Rick! I believe Rick did all these not just to make himself feel 'normal', but also to make his dad feel as though he has a normal son. Indeed, they are unable to do the ordinary things that a father and son could have done (play catch etc), but they achieved something extraordinary together. They did something which a person like Rick will never be capable of doing alone - to run. It is the strength and support his father gave, that motivated him to go against all odds. And this strength came from his love for Rick. It works both ways, doesn't it?

Family members are usually the ones you turn to when you are in need of advice. For me, my family is my pillar of strength. Unfortunately, I have to admit that they are also the ones whom I tend to take for granted and hurt the most.

Brad Blackstone said...

Thank you to each person who has found the time and energy to respond. I appreciate that!

MissPookie said...

My family rings the planet. I have closer ties to people that are not my blood relatives, and that is fine with me. Sadly,not all families are as happy as we traditionally think they should be.

The short film depicts that most unselfish kind of love. Dick is awesome.

A friend in Mumbai told me that they were most comfortable in being freet o speak freely with me, which I took to heart.

I explained to him that Americans do not interact, and relate to poeple, so much as they perform 'transactions' and move on. I am still trying not to fall into that habit.

On the occasion that a Muslim girl walks by and I say "Ahlan", and try to bring a smile to her face. I hope she feels better in a strange land.

I love this college town in a redneck wasteland! The gorcoery store is stocked with all of my favourite etnic foods! I love the diversity too!

Who knows, those who come here may leave a very positive mark on us!

MissPookie said...

Please forgive my typing...I need to mind my manners or Brad will shoot me! LOL

I have been bankrupted by medical bills from a syndrome called Fibromyalgia. For many years, all they could do was throw medication at us, dull our minds, and mitigate pain if possible.

Finally, someone found that the pain might be because nerve fibers in the muscles sre firing continuously! For the fist time in years I am not dulled by pharmacia, and my mind is awakening from a deep hangover that lasted for well over ten years.

I am told that there are drugs that have been used in Europe for years, but our Food and Drug Administration is dragging their feet on approving it. This is a far too common scenario.

I am wondering if Dick's son might one day be freed from his condition because of stem cell research or future research. Until then, Dick will keep his son's love of life mind alive with joy!

Anonymous said...

Obrigado Brad, pelos teus posts magníficos e pelo video maravilhoso deste pai e deste filho exemplares...prometo que vou vir muitas vezes ao teu Blog.
Um beijo para ti e para a Billie e Karen !

Anonymous said...

I am in aww' these two people go to show that anything is possiable.The power of love truly does move moutains. They are a inspiration to all. With having a beautiful daughter with cerebral palsy as well. I wish I could do the same for her. Maybe one day she will have a male figure in her life. That could make something like that a realality for her as well.