And it turns out, if the heart is not envious of one with knowledge, then it can be illuminated by the rays of enlightenment. Like stupidity, intelligence is contagious. – Chapter 11, “Full Moon”
I kept the money carefully in my pocket and never let go of it. Suddenly everyone looked like a thief. Money, indeed, has a cruel influence. – Chapter 40, “My Promise to Bu Mus”
I was disappointed that so many intelligent children were forced to leave school for economic reasons. I cursed all of the stupid people who arrogantly acted smart. I hated those children of the rich who threw away their educations. – Chapter 46, “His Third Promise”
But in the end our school finally lost. We were brought to our knees by education’s strongest, cruelest, most merciless and hardest-to-fight invisible enemy. It slowly gnawed away at the students, teachers, and even the education system itself like a malignant tumor: That enemy was materialism.
The current world of education no longer saw school like Pak Harfan saw it–that knowledge is about self-value, and that education is a celebration of the Creator: That school doesn’t have to be merely a means toward getting to the next level, making money and getting rich. Rather, he saw school as a celebration of humanity, one that stood for dignity, the joy of learning, and the light of civilization. School nowadays was no longer a place to build character, but a part of a capitalistic plan to be rich and famous, to show off academic titles and gain bow. – Chapter 48, “Don’t Give Up”
The wisdom was simple as the humble school itself. Fate, effort, and destiny are like three blue mountains cradling humanity and rocking them in comfort. Those mountains conspire with each other to create the future, and most find it difficult to understand how they work together. Those who fail in some aspect of life blame it on God. They say if they are poor, it is because God made them that their destiny. Those who are tired of trying stand still, waiting for destiny to change their fate. Those who don’t want to work hard accept their fate because they believe it is unchangeable–after all, everything has already been preordained, or so they believe. So the devil’s circle hems in the lazy. But what I know for sure from my own experience at the poor school is that a hard-working life is like picking up fruit from a basket with a blindfold on. Whatever fruit we end up getting, at least we have fruit. Meanwhile, life without hard work is like looking for a black cat in a dark room with closed eyes, and the cat is not even there. – Chapter 48, “Don’t Give Up”, Ikay’s belief