Despite the distance by Ken K.H. Leung

Those of you who know me know that I like to write, and I like to write long. So, you shouldn’t be surprised that in preparation for CalGames, I wrote a small piece for the teams. edit though I didn’t actually give it because there was much needed to be said about the contribution of volunteers. edit


Despite the distance
By Ken K.H. Leung

It’s actually quite amazing what we are doing here today. We are so accustomed to new technologies and instant revolutions that we are not even shocked when FIRST swept across the country the past few years.

But think about it for a moment. Next week there will be another off-season just like ours, twenty-four hundred miles to the East in Michigan. In the next two weeks there will be another four in New York, New Hampshire, and San Diego. By the end of the year, there will be another one in Israel. Israel. And this is just the off-season. Who knows how many regionals there will be in the regular season.

I don’t know if it will happen again in a decade or a century, but in a single burst of purpose and determination, we were able to reach across the globe to a different world and celebrate our hopes and promises.

All this because seventeen years ago a man name Dean Kamen decided, well, we need some changes. Think about how powerful that is, that, if you can properly inspire a group of people, give them a set of tools, strategies, principles, and set them loose; you can move the world.

But I don’t think Dean knew this was going to happen when he started seventeen years ago. One of my heroes in FIRST, Andy Baker, announced he will be working for AndyMark full time from now on supporting FIRST teams. Two of my friends in FIRST decided to get married after the girl was proposed to at an off-season in front of everyone. I don’t think Dean knew these would happen; that I would be talking to you today.

You can be just like Dean and come up with a really good idea. You can research all you want, and spend all the time predicting the future. But when all is said and done, all you have is just a promise. A promise that it will work out, a promise that you will learn enough along the way to keep going, a promise that you are doing the right thing. Nothing more.

I know that’s not what we want to hear. We like to think we have all the solutions for all the problems in the future, but we don’t. Knowing that, however, there are things you can do and must do to prepare for the unknown. You have to challenge yourself at every opportunity. You have to open yourself to new ideas and not blindly follow old ones. You have to be honest about mistakes. And you have to keep up with the changes around us, because the world is changing rapidly as we speak.

Then one day you will have an amazing idea. It will be difficult to drive it forward and build momentum because people tend to resist changes; and because people are motivated by wealth, power, fame; or worse still, by fearfulness, complacency, and indifference.

But everyday you will work with valor and vigor.
And if you honestly believe that humanity is kind, courageous, creativity;
if you believe we have the intuition to learn from the past, the endurance to do the right thing, and the humility to recognize changes;
and despite all our flaws and weaknesses, you are convinced that humanity is inherently good;

then you can hold a promise in the palm of your hand and search for a better future, not for one individuality, or one sovereignty, but one world.

well said…:slight_smile:

Another “keeper” for my wall at work. Thanks!

They’re just dots … but they are well deserved. Great piece.


Thank you for your wisdom and the wonderful ability to express in words what many of use are thinking.

Green dot, green dot, green dot green dot…

Thanks so much for the kind words.

This is the shortest, yet the hardest one I have ever done because this was designed as a speech, and so had to fit the way I talk, which is no good in front of a crowd or under pressure.

But I liked it :).

Awesome. It was short, yet powerful. Great job, keep up the good work!