When I was young, and we play in the school playground, there will be fights around me; sometimes they involved me. And when asked why the fight started, the aggressive kid would say “he did this to me”. Then the other guy would say “accidentally” – and then the comeback from the aggressive kid, “no, he purposely one” (pardon the Singlish). So apparently, ‘accidentally’ is an excuse and ‘purposely’ is the retort to suggest intentionality of the perpetrator and hence justification for reaction.
So ‘purposely’ seems like one of the early English word we learnt as kids in Singapore – and whose meaning we know. But maybe, it was also used largely in a negative context and hence it seemed to me that we subsequently live our lives less ‘purposely’. Maybe, like the kid who ‘sparked’ the fight, we prefer to live ‘accidentally’, so that when bad things happens, no one can blame us. We can finger-point to our lack of intentionality, and just wriggle away.
Maybe, our culture has driven us to be more afraid of mistakes and failures, than our desire to discover our purpose. But the question, as we go through this slog in life is: are you working hard to avoid failures or working hard to achieve what you want?
So perhaps it’s time to teach your kids to say ‘No, I did that accidentally at first; but I did retaliate on purpose because this aggressive guy decided to start a fight. I’m sorry for being part of this mess’. Teach your children to own their mistakes and express their intentions. Stop them from hiding under ‘accidents’. And how do you start? By being purposeful and intentional yourself. Because, your children probably picked that cowardice up from you, purposely.
This article is being read and recorded for readers here to increase accessibility of my writings and also to prepare myself to start a podcast that is currently in the works. Note that the written article is not an exact transcript to the reading.