JUST recently, Abu Bakar Hashim, a former professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, passed away, a quiet hero -- a notion slowly being recognised by a mindful society.
As family, friends and colleagues paid their last respects at his home and at the burial, there were stories regarding his character, contributions and impact on lives. Many stories and incidents emerge from the caring exchanges of the poignancy of loss and final parting.
As Abu Bakar was laid to rest, colleagues shared news of other recently dearly departed, among whom were educational leaders, Mahpor Baba, Rahim Saad, Ali Ibrahim, Wan Chik Rahmah, and Abdul Shukor Abdullah.
What comes to pass would be the sharing of stories of every person. Colleagues also share their own experiences of deteriorating health conditions, diagnoses and hospital visits.
Quiet heroes debunk the myth of the significance only of the extrovert, aggressive leaders.
Quiet heroes are fast moving on, especially, the supercentenarians, and nonagenarians. Deep and meaningful lessons from quiet heroes are that:
QUIET leaders are not any less significant than the visible leaders in the limelight;
|Remember the quiet heroes in our midst
Educators, who tirelessly contribute to shape the minds of the young and future generations,
are everyday examples of silent heroes in society.
CHARACTER, competence and contributions really matter, not the myths of charisma or the fascination with power and obsession of dominance;
AUTHENTIC faith and sincerity contribute to build bridges of friendships across cultures;
THE means of true happiness and real worth of a person are measured by the good deeds that are done, not the unhappiness created and the destruction brought to others' lives;
QUIET heroes are modest men and women who conduct themselves in service of their profession or nation without complaint or expectation of praise or quest for reward or fame;
THEY listen to the needs of others, especially students, empower those under their care with knowledge, not entrap them with self-defeating ideology;
THE rewards of educators as quiet heroes is to see success of their students, to see that knowledge taught is utilised meaningfully and that the young achieve their fullest potential;
QUIET heroes do not surrender to group think and do not become sheepish conformists in an intensely politicised culture;
AS society and media celebrate extroversion, quiet heroes become the definers of paradigm of quiet contributors and avoid self-promotion; and,
QUIET heroes liberate themselves from old ideas, embrace change in reasonable ways and celebrate ordinary heroes.
Abu Bakar belongs to that group of quiet professional leaders who uphold a hopeful look and optimism towards Malaysia's future. He influenced his students and colleagues to understand that each individual contributes to a civilisation larger than the individual. He is a portrait of strength with kindness, gentleness, wit and humour.
As a remarkable person and scholar, Abu Bakar had an appetite for knowledge, truth, and fairness to all -- a philosophy held by remarkable people through the ages.
Those who had the privilege of working with him in educational institutions or in the Malaysian Association for Education, where he held leadership positions, understand the meaning of faith, honour, integrity, and selfless contribution. His life's significance is no less than others who receive media attention.
Abu Bakar's strength and conviction were demonstrated quietly and effectively. He clarified educational values, and policies, disseminated knowledge on best educational practices and nurtured positive and effective thinking skills. He consciously practised the value of silence, solitude, sacrifice and deep reflection.
It is to such great, quiet heroes like Abu Bakar, other educators and those from other domains that we owe the stability and many of the assets and advances in our society. They are good people exercising the responsibilities of the dignity of their duties, and, patience in braving the challenges of daily living.
Society has not established sufficient initiatives and structures to recognise or acknowledge enough of those quiet heroes who have contributed significantly in their lifetime. After six decades of independence, the capacities, competencies and compassions of those quiet leaders in our midst are still undervalued.
Society has not yet effectively developed appreciation and creative scripting exemplified by such sensitive poignancy of Randy Pausch's preparation for moving on, or, Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie's touching chronicles of meaningful life contributions till the end of their days. Abu Bakar's story is like the indelible stories of real people throughout the land -- people of significance and substance.
To develop a caring and mindful society, among actions that should be taken are the two pronged initiative of posthumously recognising and honouring the contributions of the departed, and, utilising the expertise of the generations of octogenarians, septuagenarians and sexagenarians when they are still able to contribute.
Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid | firstname.lastname@example.org New Straits Times Opinion Columnist 14/02/2014