There is something special in each one of us, and there is something of great value in each one of us. Each one of us is capable of wonders, and we may not even realize it yet.

I was watching the acclaimed Korean movie “Miracle in Cell No. 7“, about the story of a mentally challenged man who was wrongly accused of murder, and his relationship with his young daughter. The man was locked in prison while waiting for his death sentence, among a bunch of hardened criminals, under the watchful eye of a senior prison officer. The story showed the transformation of people, and the intrinsic value each person has and can be elevated to beyond himself.

In a modern world which touts “meritocracy” as a banner may invariably cast some people aside simply because their priceless and intrinsic value may not necessarily conform to a system. Confucius believed in meritocracy, which in his ideal definition, would have served structured environments – not well, but sufficiently. I admire Confucius, but his student Mencius perhaps surpassed him by understanding that ideal meritocracy is insufficient, and must be supported by a regard for every person. We Chinese have a saying, “a student surpasses his teacher” (青出於藍).

I am an egalitarian and I believe all humans are equal and all are created to be gifted and special. I believe that every one of us deserves respect, much as what Laozi elaborated in his philosophical classic “Dao De Jing” (道德經), which showed that all mankind are special and can rise to greatness, and all thrive in harmony with one another and Providence, and that elitism has no place in the greater mankind.

Every one of us is created unique and special. Some of us may very well do well in school examinations. Some of us are good with our hands and can excel in craft or the arts. Some of us are gifted with great ears and may go on to become musicians or singers. Some of us are gifted with strength, and become athletes, firefighters, or builders. Some of us may be gifted differently, and the usual means of trying to pigeonhole us will seem to become a dilemma.

However, the truth is everyone is unique and special, and there is value in each one of us. There are many amazing people who have surpassed their limitations or challenges, and went on to touch and move our hearts, leaving us not only with tears of admiration and joy, but also a renewed strength to take steps to better ourselves.

While naysayers have thought my scoliosis and sight and my dropping out of high school would impede me to any amount of personal growth, I have slowly and steadily proved otherwise. I am not that special, just as special as any person, and no less.

The greats of our modern world, Helen Keller, Ludwig van Beethoven, Professor Stephen Hawking, tenor Andrea Bocelli, Irish author Christy Brown, and so many others before and in our time, did not give up in spite of challenges, and gave us illuminating and monumental works and legacies that will imprint human history, and most of us, inspire us that every person is unique and gifted, if given the opportunity.