In Search of The Silver Lining, Part – 2:        This Too Shall Pass
In Search of The Silver Lining, Part – 2: This Too Shall Pass

In Search of The Silver Lining, Part – 2: This Too Shall Pass

At times, it seems as though words have lost their meaning. Suddenly, they no longer possess their depth and impact; they have become lifeless to the point of impotence when once upon a time, they had the power to change the fate of nations.

  • “I have a dream.”
  •  “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I’m prepared to die”.
  • “Once you realize this, you will forget the difference between the Hindus and the Moslems, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.”

Each sentence still thunders with conviction as on the days they were first spoken by Dr. King and Nelson Mandela in 1964 and by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. Those men were not backed by multi-billion-dollar arsenals, yet no force possessed by any man could stand in the way of achieving their life purpose. Are we not made of the same stuff? Flesh, blood, and bone. A soul, body, and mind. Were we not created by the same benevolent divine power. Yet some change the world, and others are overcome by an attitude of resignation towards conditions they resent but continue to tolerate. “It is true that one of the things that make people put up with every kind of unhappiness including taxes is too ready acceptance of suffering as an inevitable.” – Dr. Nathaniel Branden.

When an individual declares: “I will do anything to achieve my goal,” there can be no hidden “ifs”…If it does not take too much effort, if the price is not too high, if I do not have to work overtime, if I do not have to give up my comforts, if I do not have to confront my spouse, boss, or colleagues, if I do not have to let go of anything, if I do not have to spend 4 hours daily getting another degree or learning a new skill to enhance my efficacy, because life appears to reward only those who have entirely erased all the ifs in that sentence.

Indeed, circumstances are severe. The Sufi wisdom “this too shall pass” can be a soothing reminder that the nature of life and the human condition are changeable, circumstances transient. Permanence is a character or state belonging to nothing and no one of this universe. This too shall pass, but in what condition will we be when it does? Better or worse than times before the pandemic? Stronger, transformed, enlightened, and victorious over the self and our circumstances or defeated, purposeless, depleted, in despair, broken? Severe circumstances can inspire an internal revolution, a revolution within the self that can produce more men and women with the same moral and mental toughness ingrained in them like Walter Carr, Or James Robertson.

20-year-old Walter Carr walked all night for 20 miles to get to work on time. James Robertson 56. He walks 21 miles every weekday as part of his journey to and from the factory he works. And he has never missed a day of work.

It requires the same internal light as in Mohammed Bzeek, the only foster father in a city of 4 million that takes care of terminally ill children and has fostered over 80 children. He has to withstand the intolerable pain of losing a child over and over again, but it has not stopped him from keeping his heart wide open to welcome new ones. The little girl that you see him embrace and soothe in this video, died one day before her birthday. He said:” we were preparing to celebrate her birthday, but ended up celebrating her life.” Mohammed Bzeek’s daily acts of kindness and selfless contribution are as many as the number of breaths he takes.

Or Sarah Adkins who came home one day to the scene of her two children, Samson and Solomon murdered by their father Troy who was experiencing increasing bouts of depression. “Her house was declared a biohazard zone, and it cost US$35,000 to clean.” She realized that poor women could not afford funerals and other costs, towards which she started a foundation. She works at a free healthcare clinic in Ohio and is working to open a new one. She is an example of someone who has suffered the worse life can throw at a person and has come out with a ferocious desire to serve. “There are people who are made larger by suffering.” David Brooks, The Second Mountain.

The pandemic can produce and strengthen more of the type of organizations that this new world needs. The type of organizations that focus on innovation like guided missiles, the type of organizations whose leadership is as brutally honest in terms of how well they are performing in the areas of governance, values and ethics, and environmental impact as they do on their EBITDA. The type of organizations that do not rush to cut every corner possible in their products and services, they sell products as advertised, they do not attempt to have one person do the work of 5, and they do not view their reward practices as a system of carrots and sticks. I came across a post recently where a company was paying experienced professionals as they would interns and have individuals pay for their own visas and laptops. It is not Covid-19 that is taking advantage of people’s life conditions; it is people taking advantage of people. As a matter of fact, one area that should be of great collective concern is the widespread psychological impact. Yet imagine that variations of such organizations operate in Education and Healthcare. Would an individual want the nurse taking care of his loved ones or the teacher educating her children to be treated with such lack of consideration, respect, or fairness? In what psychological condition will they be coming to work every day.

But I believe that this too shall pass, and we shall overcome. Why? William Faulkner has already answered this question: “I believe that man will not merely endure he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

Image by Jackson David from Pixabay

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