With one arm we will hold onto one another…


With one arm we will hold onto one another…
By Ken K.H. Leung

It’s an incredible feeling being at a FIRST Robotics competition. You never see such a large group of people trying so hard to make you feel so welcomed, so excited about what they believe in. Even when there are conflicts, they are always limited in the game, because everyone goes home knowing that some day they will be partners again, on or off the field.

I wish I can say the same thing for the world outside. FIRST is like a training wheel for life, but once you take it off, it’s different. It takes years to build something worthwhile, to build, ultimately, happiness. Yet we work so hard to make people around us unhappy, whether intentional or not. All it takes is one moment to forget who and where we are, one choice to put yourself above others… and silence.

As if all the challenges and limitations from our time isn’t enough, that beyond everything out of our control, we have to go out of our way to make others unhappy. For all the innovations from the 21st century, we are still incapable at breaching the gap between people, across color, status, appearances, and stereotypes; across superficial differences to truly understand one another. And for all of our access to information, we are uninformed and uninvolved at the adversities that weight upon others everyday, and unappreciative of times when we were equally powerless.

For instance, I didn’t know up until 1977, small pox was still a devastating disease that killed up to 50% of infected and hundreds of thousands of people each year. I didn’t know it was a seriously infectious disease that ravaged the human species as far back as 1350 BC and particularly during the 18th century, and that up until 31 years ago, we were still battling a disease that killed one in two people.

One in two people.

Happiness takes so much to build and so little to destroy. The balance between the two is so staggeringly disproportionate that it simply overwhelms you when you realize it. It’s not that we are unaware of sadness in this world; we just don’t realize what we have until we’ve lost them, and a lot of us don’t fully appreciate that.

Then, for all of our confidence, intelligence, and pride, we are unwilling to admit that we too are flawed, that we can’t fix everything, and when we can’t, that we too need support, understanding, and compassion; and we forgot that the ultimate measure of a person, to quote Dr. King, “is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience", but how he emerges from times of failures and regrets.

Yet, people continue to work day after day for others despite all the unhappiness in this world, asking no rewards, seeking no gratitude. Last week, I listened to my favorite radio station raised over one million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the 28th years, even though no cure has been found. Everyday I watch candidates running to be president despite people constantly telling them they are not good enough. And I read about people protest against powerful governments, at home, and half way across the world, with no hope of making any serious changes in the near future.

It hurts when we see something happen and know for certain we could’ve done so much better. It hurts because with every advancement since the beginning of human civilization, there should be no one left hungry or helpless in this world. But there are, and there are many. So if one more dollar could’ve saved just one more life, isn’t that dollar worth fighting for? There will always be problems in this world. There will always be sadness in our lives. But if going through fire could’ve raised a thousand more dollars, isn’t it worth running into the fire?

But I chose to write and do all the other things because I believe in bigger forces, and bigger impacts. I believe if you have the right idea at the right time with the right people, you can lift the world with it. I also know I am spoiled and I expect a certain comfort in life. And I know some day I would like to raise a family. Which is why I’ve been searching for this one idea that I alone can recognize, this unique solution that will allow me to fix one problem in this world, and I would be able to work toward it for the rest of my life, and be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I’ve done my part.

From the bottom of my heart, I know I am not alone in this. There are many things that separate us, but sadness is so much more fundamental, and we all share it one way or another. If we can understand that about each other, if through that we can learn to reach out just a little more, maybe there will be more room for tolerance, compassion, and patience, and just a little more room for one another in this already small world, made even smaller by our inability to communicate. And maybe, just maybe, there won’t be so much sadness surrounding us everyday.

I don’t know if we will ever be able to achieve this level of understanding, but miracles can happen.

The eradication of small pox was considered one of the greatest achievements of humanity. At the height of the cold war, when two super power threatened to annihilate each other with the most powerful weapon ever developed through technologies and innovations, people from the two countries set aside their differences and worked together toward a common goal, crossing over races, culture, and countries to defeat one of humanity’s greatest threat. With determinations and what represented the best of human spirit, that generation left us a safer, happier world to live in.

Miracles can happen again. There are more that unite us than divide us. If we can understand what’s truly important to us; if we can illuminate that common part of our humanity made invisible by skin-deep differences; and if we can use our diversity to fulfill every miracle to the fullest extend with the talents, courage, and wisdoms inherent in all of us, in one shape or another;

then maybe we will be able to leave behind a world where we won’t feel so lonely anymore; and maybe we can leave behind a world where we are all willing to extend our hands when help is asked of us. And maybe, just maybe, we can leave behind a place where everyone can come together, where no one gets left behind.

No One.

And with courage and all that represents the best of our humanity, we will hold onto one another with one arm, and with the other, touch the stars in the heavens.


I’m not worthy…


dude, that is amazing. gratz to you for writing that.

Were u writing that for fun, or for a class?


I’m not sure. Ken writes these posts from time to time, and they are all good. I would encourage you to look up some of the others.


Thank you :). It’s something I like to do every once in a while. Great opportunity for me to sit down and really think about something important.

I have a feeling I will never be able to write like this for a class…


Cool to see someone who can express all that in words. I know I could never do it.


EDIT: If its cool with Ken and if its possible, I would love to see this published in one of FIRST’s newsletters or something. It is so worthy of praise from all over the FIRST community.


I agree, A+. This peice actually really doesnt have a grade worthy of it, but you know, ill just give you the best i can.

Really, its just one of those things i read that made me warm inside.


This rocks so much I put the last line as my desktop background along with the black background FIRST logo.

Great job.


…WOW!.. just WOW… To repeat, “I am not worthy” And again…WOW!!

Thats all I have to say lol

Amen to that!!!


Ken… as always, your words inspire us all. Thank you.


I would love to contribute this to a FIRST’s newsletter, but I wouldn’t know how to go about it. Also, I don’t want to presume it’s suitable for it. After all, I am sure they have a specific design on what they want the newsletter to do.

Bottomline, I am already grateful that readers of the CD forum don’t mind me coming in every once in a while posting these long messages. I don’t have much expectations other then using these as opportunities to sharpen my writing skills and sharing something with everyone here.


Ken, I don’t think a single one of us minds the length at all. We can all relate to the content if we slow down our minds and really sift through the noise to interpret our thoughts. I have yet to find someone who is able to put those thoughts into words as well as you do and thank you again for yet another post. I don’t completely agree that sadness drives our lives, but I do agree that the small miracles we perform over the years pulls us together more than the detremental occurences that divide us.

Well written indeed.


Ken, another great post. I however don’t see eye to eye with all of it. I would love to see major changes, a break through and society change. This however does not happen overnight. Cures, attitudes and views take time to accomplish. A lake gets filled one drop at a time. I believe that there are many who spend their life trying to make the big change or big discovery but never succeed. There are others that offer a bit of themselves every day and are slowly changing peoples lives. Are we capable of more? Definitely, but we have these restrictions that we place on ourselves or are placed on us by others.

Why are we mentors here at FIRST? Some for glory, some for fun but I believe that most are here because they see the possibility for changing society one student at a time. We all give of ourselves but what we get back is that knowledge that changes are happening, lives are changing, life is improving. We may not see the final outcome in our life time but it will continue to build. Like a Tsunami, it starts with a small wave and as time goes on it continues to grow as it is continually pushed along by the wind of change. Before you know it there is a huge wave that changes all in its way. Yes I know that a tsunami can be destructive but even after it has left its path, new, fresh life springs up bringing a clean new beginning.

We must always remember, not the bad, but the good that is around us. The cup is always half full and getting fuller. There is always light at the end of the tunnel and most of all, that things done in love will always be fruitful. We can always find the negative around us but those that seek the positive will always be refreshed at the unexpected changes that seem to “just happen”. We can each make a change by drop at a time or spend our lives trying to be a bucket that will make one large change. What ever our choice we must remember that it not about us but about positively effecting those around us.


Steve, great response. I understand your position completely. Here is mine.

I do agree that changes take time to accomplish. In fact, I see people working to contribute toward those changes day by day all the time, you being one of many examples in FIRST, as well as many other individuals in this world.

However, I would argue that FIRST came into existence because Dean had a vision in his head. I would argue that in order to build up these Tsunami, it takes someone with big ideas and big visions, someone to imagine the impossible, to capture the imagination of the rest of us. It is through these ideas that people can rally together and work toward one goal. Otherwise, if all we can imagine is one drop at a time, I am not sure we will get anywhere.

But I do agree that a majority of the work done to create major changes is done one drop at a time. My position is that I am not necessary most suitable for doing that kind of work :stuck_out_tongue: .

On the other point, I would also argue that we do have to remember there are times when the cup is half empty. Not that we have to live in despair or fear constantly, but we do have to be careful about being too content with things in front of us. If we only focus in how well things are here, in America, how will we ever notice the third world countries where things aren’t so well? If we never see a little sadness and failures in things, how will we ever strive to make them better?

But what you and I are saying are not mutually exclusive. We aren’t limited to having one thought at a time. We can have many, in an organized manner. We do have to have hope and optimism in order to believe we can create big changes one day. But we also have to have a little sadness and regrets to understand we are not perfect, to understand we can always learn to do better, and to understand that there will always be limitations that we cannot breach within our life time.

Are we going to let our fear and depression stop us from doing anything at all? No. But we do have to learn to deal with failures, learn to understand it, and conquer it, because there are many instances when things won’t go so well in our lives. And how do we pick ourselves up from failures? Hope and optimism of course ;). And a little humility, and lots of hard work.

There are times when we need to be happy and let things be, and there are times when we need to be sad and strive to do better. The key is to strike a balance between the two. Doesn’t that apply to everything else in our lives?

Again, there are more that unite us than divide us. Sadness is just one of them, but a very powerful one nonetheless.

Last weekend I was participating at the Relay For Life at UC Davis, being one of many there walking to raise money for cancer. Each step I took was a drop in the bucket. But those who envisioned Relay For Life had big ideas, and they were able to lift the world up using those big ideas. Many were also there because they lost someone from cancer, or knew someone who lost someone from cancer.

Sadness was definitely a major factor that brought these people together. But if you walk on the track in the other direction, and watching people as they run toward you for the 11th hour, you will see lots of smiles, you will hear lots of music, and you will feel lots of hopes and optimism.


Ken, I am not so sure that sadness is the driving point that drives people forward. I believe it to be the knowledge that things can be done and that they can be the ones that start it off. My wife and I have this discussion constantly as I am the hopeful optimist and she says that she is a realist. It is my belief that everyone makes a contribution to society. The issue lies in what that contribution is. Positive, negative or neutral. There are many that hide their heads in the sand and let life go by. This is probably the majority of people. There are those that do all they can to disrupt everything that is good in society. These people are the minority. Then there are all those that take time out of their busy life to help others and try to improve society in general. Whether it is going to a home for the aged, helping a Girl Guide group, helping build homes, going overseas to help in poor areas or work with a FIRST team, all are making a contribution. Yes there are dreamers that see what others do not and idealist with grandiose ideas but without the people that implement the the idea , nothing gets accomplished. You brought up Dean as an example, a figurehead for sure, but to whom does he give his homework? How many teams has he mentored and at how many events has he volunteered? I guess that my thoughts are as to which is more important, the salesman that sells you the car or the people that design, build and test it.

In the year 1998 I took a one month trip to Burkina Faso. I went to assist a missionary family that have ben there for years. This is a very poor country with totally different conditions than those we see here. One of the jobs that my friend had was to try and teach farming and help with water issues. Wells were built and gardens planted. After a year or so the plants died and the wells broke down. Even though there were parts and people were trained they wells went to waste. I have spoken to some of these people and believe me they are happy people but they don’t have the drive to make things better. It may be that for hundreds of years there was no hope so they became accustom to their lifestyle I don’t know. I can tell you that the people there were more open and willing to help than a lot of the people here. They would gladly share what they had with us even if it meant that they had less. What a humbling experience.

I hope that you in your search can find the thing that you are looking for. Your ability to put into words your passion and desires is overwhelming. Maybe your greatest gift is one that you are overlooking, being your ability to put onto paper such compelling thoughts. Look within and search yourself, see what drives you and put it to work. Remember that a carpenter without a hammer and a saw is just another person walking the streets.

Excuse me for my long winded rant as sometimes you stir the passions in me with your loooonnngggg writings. :rolleyes:


Welcome back Ken.


Ken, you have very lofty goals for yourself and for society as a whole. I truly admire your writing. I’m glad you share it with us. Contrary to popular belief, I actually quite enjoy thinking about these types of things every once in a while.

While your goal is lofty, it is not unattainable. That is, if we can get everyone to work towards a common goal. Dave spoke a bit about this at the Hawaii Regional. If anyone has video of his speech, I think it would be a great asset to this discussion. He pointed out how FIRST helps to bridge gaps between so many different types of people with different backgrounds–religiously, economically, politically, socially, geographically, etc.

However, as you said, once you take FIRST out of the equation the “real,” or “non-FIRST” world is a completely different atmosphere. There are people out there who seemingly try to corrupt everything for which humans have worked.

Now, I’m speaking completely from my observations (and mind you, I’m only a 16 year old high school junior who still has much to learn of the world). Humans, in general, tend to be self-centered. As problems such as starvation and disease continue to ravage much of the world, those of us that are “okay” continue to live a “normal” life. Not until tragedy strikes us do we pull together and work as one towards a common goal–look at 9/11 or the events that occurred at Virginia Tech last year. A nation that had been somewhat divided suddenly bonded together to support each other. But even then, we think that each rough spot will pass away, but, in the end, only people pass away.

If only such a thing was possible in times of peace, when no tragedy has struck and all is relatively peaceful. Though things may not be as tumultuous as before, prejudice still exists in America, as much as people like to think it doesn’t. If people could learn to look past their prejudice, perhaps we could solve some of the world’s larger problems. I could sit here and rattle off a list of disease to which cures have not been found, or countries where clean, healthy drinking water is still not available. But for some, these problems seem too remote, too unreal for them to really do anything about it. As Albert Camus put it brilliantly in his novel The Plague, “What are a hundred million deaths? …] Since a dead man has no substance unless one has actually seen him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.” Despite this difficulty in understanding, there should still be awareness.

There should still be a fight.

The main lesson I think people need to learn is that we’re all in this together. Whether or not we like to admit it, we could get cancer just as easily as the homeless man begging on the street corner can. Often, we look at problems and think, “That can never happen to me!” But then it does. And only then does it become our problem. We almost always put ourselves first, which is quite understandable. Ken, you mentioned listening to the radio station that raised money for Leukemia and Lymphoma. Those people who donated are exceptions to much of what the rest of society believes. Most people would disregard those issues, instead spending those $20 or so towards a new gadget or a designer item of clothing, disregarding those that are often essentially being given a death sentence when they contract such illnesses.

Misfortune disregards social, economic, racial, and political status. It does not care if you have 4 kids, a wife, or no family at all.

And Ken, as you beautifully pointed out, we must put up a fight, even if we know the effects will not always be permanent. Evil will always exist, whether as a tyrannical leader, or as a newly-discovered disease, it will always remain a part of the human race. But that doesn’t matter. There must always be a fight. As you pointed out “if going through fire could’ve raised a thousand more dollars, isn’t it worth running into the fire?” If we can save 1 life out of 10, won’t that make the fight worth it?

I leave you with yet another quote from Albert Camus’s The Plague (blame my AP English teacher for assigning a research paper on a European author of our choice).

"We must aspire beyond ourselves toward that high and fearful vision. And on that lofty plane all will fall into place, all discords be resolved, and truth flesh forth from th dark cloud of seeming injustice."

If we can learn to set aside our differences to work toward that goal, we might just reach it.

I could not agree more with Ken when he says we should strive to “hold onto one another with one arm, and with the other, touch the stars in the heavens.”

My apologies if this post seemed disorganized or a bit long. That’s what happens when I get thinking, and I’m unfortunately not nearly as eloquent as Ken.


wow…im speechless…



Steve, you and I have no bones to pick with each other. We basically both agree on the same thing, just from different side of the balance.

The people who work day after day are extremely important in realizing the dreams and ideas that a few individuals thought of. I am just saying I don’t think I am must suitable for such a role. I need to do my writing, and I need to think of impossible ideas. (By the way, my search have not been in vain. I am homing in a few ideas that I am particularly fond of, I just need to have the discipline/patience to research more and put those ideas into papers)

The bottom line is, I don’t think you want the world only with people just like you, and I certainly don’t want to world only with people just like me. Here is a slightly different version of your analogy of a carpenter:

A leader without followers is just a guy out taking a walk.

By the way, here is a note from a rep point I got for this post:

With one arm we will hold onto one another…
And get a yellow card for entanglement … :slight_smile:

I like to thank GaryVoshol for that.


Ken I agree that we are both seeing the same ending from different points of view. That is the reason that I posted. If I thought for a moment that we had issues I would do so person to person. The reason that I posted a sI did was that sometimes we look too hard for something that is right there in front of us (ask my wife). Some of the greatest ideas came from someone getting a brain flash while doing something completely different. Many times the way to find the answer is to walk away and do other things and all of a sudden it comes to us.

It is encouraging to know that you have ideas on the burner and that you know why you are were you are now. It seems that there is a candle at the end of your tunnel so now you need to stop resting and run towards it. My only advice is don’t be a moth, stop before you run into the flame and test enjoy the glow.

Please keep up the great posts. As you can tell, there are a great number of people that love to read what you have to say.