Taking GE lessons during the pandemic

[Author: S M Faisal Bin Ibrahim]

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was supposed to take all my classes face-to-face. The transition from face-to-face to Zoom classes was really quick and everyone had to adapt to it fast. The pandemic has changed a lot of things in the world. The faster we can adapt to the change, the better it is for us. Rewind to the 19th century, and you will find a particular British person trying to explain the exact thing to the world. Whether or not we firmly believe in what he said is a different story, but Charles Darwin was right. However, everyone does not need to believe in Darwin’s theory if it contradicts their views. Darwin’s theory of evolution was one of my favourite topics in my GE course. In this short piece, I will briefly go through what I think about Darwin’s theory, and why I do not mind if people are against it.

The theory of evolution has always fascinated me; I could read books and all about the topic, but the GE course allowed me to discuss it with my peers. During the discussion sessions, it was evident that quite a few students were not fond of the idea of evolution. However, instead of criticizing them for not believing in the theory, it is better to have an open mind and try to understand their views. Their views might not make sense to evolutionists, and the best part is that our views do not need to make sense. I can view the world as a cage where we are trapped and somebody else may view it as a land of freedom. The reasoning behind my view may go over their head and the reasoning behind their views may go over mine. As long as our views do not directly harm something or somebody, I think that it is okay to have differing opinions. Then, where do we draw the line between opinions and facts? The Earth is round, and it is a fact. The Earth is flat, but this one here is an opinion. Do we force flat-earthers to believe in our ‘view’, which is the fact, or do we let them dwell with their own ‘view’ which is incorrect? Are they being ignorant by not trying to understand science? Yes, they are, but is it changing the fact? No, and as long as it does not change the fact, there is not much to argue about here.

Knowing one’s self is one of the most difficult things in the world in my opinion. One may spend 80 years on this planet and still not know much about himself; he may think that he would not be hurt if incident X occurred but still be hurt when incident X occurred. A good way of trying to ‘Know Thyself’ (as famously quoted by Socrates) is self-reflecting. Self-reflection allows us to look back and assess our past actions and behaviours. It helps us to learn from our past decisions and make better ones in the future. I have had the opportunity to reflect and write about my reflections during my GE lessons. This helped me to think deeper about the topics and come up with ideas and thoughts which did not cross my mind initially. The best thing about self-reflecting is that every time we look back on our past, we have the opportunity to come up with some new findings of ourselves. How many times have you figured out something about yourself and asked ‘Why did I not think about this before?’ This happens with pretty much every one of us and allows us to have new perspectives. It also allows us to understand the views and perspectives of other people. The GE courses at CUHK have honed my self-reflecting ability, and the application of self-reflection in my life has helped me to start my journey on knowing myself.

Now, I am not saying that an anti-evolutionist will believe in Darwin’s theory upon self-reflection. That is not the goal of self-reflection. The goal of self-reflection, as I mentioned earlier, is to understand our thoughts and emotions. Throughout the process of understanding, one may come up with a different perspective and hold on to it. For example, someone may have been an anti-evolutionist because he could not find the coherence between Darwin’s theory and his personal beliefs on life. However, upon years of reflection, he may come up with different reasoning to refute the theory. It is interesting to see how these transitions occur. However, some things can only be experienced, and self-reflection is one of those things. It is important to understand that the reflection process does not happen overnight. It should also be noted that no one can force anyone to reflect; it should come from within oneself.

In summary, I would like to emphasize that the difference in our views makes us human beings. This is the most important teaching that I have taken from my GE lessons, and I plan to carry it with me till my last breath.