Pakistan Embassy College Beijing (PECB) held its annual Inter-House English Debate on Friday, December 21. The topic at hand, called the motion of the house, was “It is better to be dishonest and rich than honest and poor.” PECB invited HE Amel Kovacevic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Ambassador to China, and his spouse, Amela Kovacevic, as the chief guests. A total of 11 students from No. 80 High School Chaoyang School and Chen Jin Lun High School were also invited as guest speakers.
I was one of the ten participants from the senior section of the school who participated in this competition and I was in favor of the motion. One week before the competition, all the participants had separate rehearsals and during that one week everyone was tense. On the day of the competition, I was nervous. As I took my seat among the rest of my opponents, I could feel the tension in the air. Some of them sat quietly, rehearsing their speech mentally while some of my opponents were chatting nineteen to a dozen, I guess that’s how they prevent themselves from panicking. I, on the other hand, was trying to lip read what my friends down the stage were attempting to communicate to me.
At ten o’clock, the chief guest arrived and the function started with four of the guest speakers speaking for and against the motion. They were impressive, which made me more nervous, but before I knew it, the competition was underway and the first participant from our school, Ruhka Sadiq from Class 9, walked up to the podium. I was the third contestant and when the announcer called my name, my panic attack started but I put on a brave face and started my speech. Looking at the audience from the stage while giving a speech, I felt like a teacher teaching in class – everyone’s attention was on me. When I ended my speech, it felt like the load on my shoulders was finally gone and I began to pay more attention to other speeches. Ali Zahoor, the fifth speaker’s speech, who was against the motion, was jaw-dropping. Watching the A-Level 2 student speaking was like watching Obama campaigning. Shizza Asif, from Class O-Level 2 (which is also my class) was equally impressive as she argued for the motion. Her sardonic tone while she brought up examples of lemons and Hitler made the audience laugh throughout the entire speech.
The ten contestants, using all their public speaking and persuasion skills, made the audience themselves question their own opinion. In the end, the three judges, Olivera Pinas, wife of the Suriname Ammbassador to China; David, resident director of No. 80 Chaoyang High School; and Muhammad Dilawar Khan, IELTS at Xinjiang University, decided to award the fourth place to Maria Waheed from Class O-Level 1, and they awarded me. Ali Zahoor, called “dangerous” by the judges, received the second place and Shizza Asif, was declared winner of the Annual English Debate.
The competition thus ended and the chief guest congratulated the winners as well as encouraged all the contestants to participate in the competition again.
Below is Ali Zahoor’s Speech:
Good afternoon, Mr. President.
Here’s a truth: everybody lies. Let’s face it. No one is completely honest. People have a compulsive disorder, an irrevocable tendency to re-adjust words, consciously or unconsciously. However, it is intention that decides the moral nature of the lie. Moral nature is as Kant said based on rationalization and that establishes our choices. Despite this, money is an almost instinctual desire which redefines our moral desire for honesty, and then what is the better state? I, however, do believe that it is better to be poor and honest than to be rich and dishonest.
What way is there to define richness? Is richness, in this context, defined as financial security or an extravagant lifestyle? And what is honesty? Simply telling the truth or is dishonesty a concept word for other vices such as stealing, counterfeiting or fraud? And for our sake let’s remember, Honesty is not a matter of the best policy, but a matter of right or wrong. Honesty does not necessarily mean poor. They’re countless examples in history demonstrating this, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Warren Buffet and many common journalists, writers, businessmen, workers and leaders and these were not just rare people, but everyday people from everyday places.
But, no, money is a material possession, a mere entity, a human item that has us twirling in loops aimlessly. Money will come and go; it will swim circles around the ocean of market routes, but a deed that influences expression, such as telling the truth will remain perpetual. You have to remember, being honest can be hard, and then pay off, but, being dishonest can pay off, but then drive you insane. For all we know, our fellow opponents could be lying to you right now, to get ahead, but you see, once exposed, which is inevitable, the dishonest have little credibility.
Furthermore, everyone unfailingly keeps on referring to the world around us and the absolute necessity of establishing financial strength. We continue on to look at the authoritarian culture of society and our desire to adjust to the background. We are the victims of society and slaves of our commercial requirements. Stop looking at the people around you, stop looking at the society around you and at the world around you and look at the person within you. Psychologically, the functions of our mind labor in the same way they did thousands of years ago; we still have the same needs and wants and our spiritual requirements are the same. Money is not as important as we think when we have other values to maintain.
In fact, why don’t you decide for yourself? What would you prefer, to be an old man hanging on to life, sitting on your rocking chair in a grand room filled with cynics, skeptics and hypocrites you call friends begging for money from you or be next to your brothers and sisters and laughing and smiling despite your empty pockets. And when you are ashes, would your funeral be a gigantic rich one surrounded by thousands of greedy men, tycoons and scoundrels, or a humble funeral with few friends and family that actually cared for you that were there beside you when you took your last breath even when you didn’t have a cent to offer.
Honesty is not just telling the truth in financial issues or career. Honesty is being honest to your friends, to your family, to the world. Honesty is being honest to yourself, about your defects and your assets, about your abilities and your philosophies, about your fears and your future, about the world around you and your life and then you’ll find true richness.
Virtues are a fountain of intense and fierce shapes that resemble the shadows of our own thirst and the settlement to their blistering violence is to follow the moral elevations that define honesty. That honesty is of more value than any money we will ever have.
We reroute the meaning of better, can better be what’s better for us or what’s better for everyone else. What we need or what we want? In any one of these definitions, we can realize that, in conclusion, it is better to be poor and honest than to be rich and dishonest. Because it is as William Shakespeare quoted “No legacy is as rich as honesty.”
Jun Wei Loh, 15, is the beijingkids student correspondent for the Pakistan Embassy College of Beijing. She is from Malaysia and is currently doing her O Levels at PECB. Although her favorite subjects are math and physics, she enjoys writing articles and is part of the newsletter editing team in her school. She is also attempting to write a novel and hopes to publish it one day. Her hobbies change from day to day depending on what mood she is in. The three things she wanted to try out one day are: parachuting, bungee jumping and piloting a plane.
Photos courtesy of PECB
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