Reduced to a Dash


Look at the obits  in the papers.

Isn’t it sad to note that a person’s life is usually summed up by “[year of birth] – [year of death]”?

No matter who that person was, the dash between his year of birth and his year of death is what that person’s life is all about.

Reduced to a dash, princes and paupers all the same.

What is sadder still is that some people have lived to ripe old ages before they died, yet they’ve done very little to add value to other people’s lives.

Anthony Yeo, who died on June 21 at age 60 from Burkitt’s lymphoma, was an academic lightweight, who did not do well in school.

He once told reporters that he flunked his exams so regularly that he was dropped from three primary schools; he went on to fail his O-levels twice.

But this never mattered, for it was his down-to-earth, giving nature and passion for helping others that powered what he was to do with his life.

His name is synonymous with Singapore’s first counseling centre, the non-profit Counseling and Care Centre. The pioneer of the counseling profession here has often been called Singapore’s “Father of Counseling”.

He also helped set up suicide prevention agency Samaritans Of Singapore. He also spent decades training counselors here and in the region, often for free.

He was a humble man, not ashamed of the fact that unlike so many lemming-like Singaporeans he has not “upgraded” from public housing to a private condo.

He knew that the true measure of a man is not determined by where one lives.

It does not matter if we do not always agree with him. But we must acknowledge the fact that during the time he walked with us on this earth, he has touched lives.

In the meantime, what are you doing with your dash?

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