Life rule #3 / Be hated

12:00:00 AM

Adrian Tan gave a commencement speech called “Life and How To Survive It” to a graduating class in the National University of Singapore. My friend Pauline gave me a copy of his speech, and it got me to re-think my life and my priorities. He gave four rules:

  1. Do not work.
  2. Avoid telling the truth.
  3. Be hated.
  4. Love someone.
As the title implies, this is about the third rule.

Because it can be validating. Haha!
(image from the internet)

"It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions... There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself... Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong."

Adrian Tan pointed out in his speech that throughout history, the people who have made a difference were hated by a great many. They were persecuted for their convictions, but they persisted in the face of strong resistance.

This is not license to pick fights for everything, though. You need to choose the battles worth fighting, and then you fight. Before you do, brace yourself. There will be times when we would have to pay dearly for what we choose to believe in. Our friends (or worse, our families) may turn their backs on us, and they may even become our very enemies.

Remember, the right thing is not always the popular thing, so you can expect opposition when you choose to do right. Think about The Newsroom (I know it's fictional but it is loosely based on reality) - Will, Mackenzie, and Charlie are trying to do the right thing by reporting news that matters, but they lose some of their audience and even corporate support when they chose the high road. More than elitists, they're idealists fighting the good fight.

But on the flipside, you also need to be very careful that you're actually right, and not just being self-righteous. It's very easy to mistake one for the other, so you always have to keep yourself in check. I've met my share of self-righteous people, and I hope I don't become like them (and I definitely hope I'm not already).


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