A few days ago, I read a real life story about a man whom out of no fault of his own lost everything he ever had.
He was dismissed from his job and became the subject of criminal legal proceedings by his employers, so he couldn’t find another job. His house was repossessed and he was declared bankrupt. After months of scraping for a living his wife took their kids away as he was unable to look after them; he became homeless and endened up surviving on soup kitchens and donations from his friends, his brother and the local church; depression threatened to hit hard, the scoffers gossiped and mocked him; some of his supposed ‘friends’ abandoned him and used his story as a butt to jokes; Even his wife’s relatives said some nasty things about him. The same world he lived in, suddenly became so dark and unfriendly he felt so alone.
The striking thing about the story was not any of the events that characterised the “downfall”. No, they were common problems people all over the world face from time to time; What was striking about him was how he chose to react to it. How resilient and calm he became. While others would probably have tried to commit suicide, or would have been angry and resorted to substance abuse and suchlike, he just remained calm and collected. Everyday, he woke up, went for a jog came back to the home of his brother’s family that had taken him in, had breakfast then went out and about. He challenged himself that from then onwards he would redevelop himself by reading at least one book every single day. He was to attend as many free events as he could find. It didn’t matter what the event was, if there were people gathering for something, a free event open to the public, he was there. Often he found himself among christian groups, muslim gatherings, car enthusiasts, hobbyists and various other gatherings. He was determined to learn as much of what he didn’t already know as he could find. So he spent his days in the library, in art galleries, in coffee shops and focus groups, reading, learning, debating; about economics, science, astronomy, physics, politics…philosopy. He thought that by pursuing everything that fascinated him which he didn’t already know, he was turning the hardship into an opportunity. Slowly the weeks turned into months, the months into years, yet he remained unmoved. The case his employers had brought against him (which they used to dismiss him from his job) came and began its oddysey through the courts, each time ending in disfavour against him. But he remained calm and maintained his innocence.
His children grew, birthdays, Christamas holidays and other festive holidays came, in which he had to beg on the streets for money just so he could buy each of them a gift; a love they would never know, a love would never comprehend. He refused to ask his brother for money as by taking him in, his brother’s family were already making a huge sacrifice for him. Instead, he played the guitar in the streets to pay for bus fares to see his children, and buy the milk, the veggies and bread for his brothert’s family. It was the least he could do.
Eventually, his wife divorced him and remarried and moved in with her new husband. Bitterly, he saw his kids raised by another man.
The chain of pain and persecuttion run so long, and so deep that one day one of his closest friends who remained by his side throughout the hardship couldn’t help but ask him how he took it all so well? Why didn’t he just leave and begin a new life elsewhere; how could any human being put up with so much pressure, so much persecution, when it caused him so much pain and loss, and there was no visible end to it.
His response was as follows:- “I am tempted, everyday. But if I leave now, isn’t it admitting to doing wrong. Admitting to being a fraudster, admitting to all the names the scoffers have called me; admitting to being evil and mean, like they are? Yet if I remain silent and pursue justice, one day the real truth will come to light, if I stay the course and maintain my innocence, someone sensible someday will notice the errors and triumph my case. Someone will re-examine the evidence. It may take 2 years, 5 years, probably ten years, but the truth will nevertheles come out. But even if the truth doesn’t come out, by being me, by being true to who I am, I will remain at peace. I have regrets, but fleeing will never be the answer. After all, I have my children here and a brother who one day may need my help. My ex-wife didn’t deserve any of the hardship I brought to her and the kids. But neither did I deserve it. Come to think of it, she wasn’t the best person for me to grow old with, because, had she been the one in my shoes, going through the hardship, I would have stood by her until the very end. But the fact that she left speaks volumes about the kind of person she is. And thank God this has happened, I now know that I don’t want to spend my life with someone who wasn’t prepared to make the same sacrifices for me, as I was for her. As for the scoffers, don’t mind them, they wouldn’t survive any of this, and they know it. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, they are timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat. Finally, lets get it all into perspective. While it is bad, it could be worse. Maybe I should consider that I am alive, have no known disease, is healthy and live in a secure country. So I count my blessings every day.”
While I don’t know how the story ended, I think it is an example of incredible resilience and the power within the huiman spirit. But as much as I would like to believe that human beings are capable of incredible endurance, this type of attitude is something that one develops over the years, perhaps as a result of age, experience, possibly Faith, or some other factors. It doesn’t come naturally. In reading this, I couldn’t help but remember another of Roosevelt’s quotes that I’m familiar with which states: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
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