Monday, March 12, 2007

The Blue Rose - Man does not live by bread alone

According to Dr Lee Kum Tatt, the rose may appear in several colours, but most commonly in red. But, in nature, you can never find a blue rose. Dr Lee is fascinated by this fact and invented this story of the blue rose.

Tan Kin Lian.


The Blue Rose
Man does not live by bread alone

When Singapore became independent in 1965 it was realized that political freedom would not give us freedom from poverty and disease. The difference between the developed countries and the developing countries was in their level of science and its application for national development.

Singapore decided to put emphasis in the development of its only resource - manpower, especially its scientific, technological, technical and professional manpower. Emphasis was placed on the study of science and technology in our schools, polytechnic and universities.

The Singapore Science Council was formed under the Deputy Prime Minister’s office. Being the founder chairman of this Council for the first 10 years I initiated and participated in many programs to achieve our mission. Besides manpower training at various levels I have to help promote R & D in our Universities and our industries. We were very limited in our funds for R & D then but we managed to generate a lot of activities. How was that done? Many like to know.

In 1968 I attended a big international conference on “Science & The New Nations”. Most countries, especially the developed ones, boasted on their spending on R & D and the poorer ones complained of their limitation to funding for these activities. I was asked to give a short comment on what Singapore did to keep the spirit of R & D alive. I presented the following story:

“Once there was a poor boy who only had one coin in his pocket. He went to buy himself a slice of bread. He saw a blue rose which he was strongly attracted to. He asked the lady shopkeeper whether he could also have the rose and was prepared to take a smaller slice of bread instead. The lady thought that this was rather unusual for a poor boy to want a rose when what he needed most was his food. So the lady asked the boy why he wanted the rose so badly. The small boy replied:

"Madam, The bread is something I need to live on now. The blue rose will remind me that I have something to live for.”

The small boy got his rose and he became somebody in life.

Many of the participants at the conference were quite impressed with this story. This story touches on the distinguishing feature between Man and Animal. Besides struggling for mere existence Man needs something to live for in life. This is the driving force that made civilization what it is today. I am glad my parents gave this to me. The blue rose does not exist. It only exists in our minds.

My blue roses are my family, my fellow men and the things I like to do. The Blue Rose has become a symbol of that very special “Somebody” or “Something” which every human being needs to lead a full and more meaningful life.

Who and what are your blue roses in your life? Let them give you the strength to do what you like to do.

Lee Kum Tatt

No comments: