Views & Reviews
To Weather the Storms in Life
The most important lesson in life is to have values.
Sixty years ago, an American newspaper columnist wrote about how, as a child, he was terrified by thunder and lightning and would hide, trembling, in his bedroom wardrobe. But his mother would come for him and lead him by the hand down to the front porch, where the display of heavenly violence could be seen in full force. He wrote his masterpiece on the day his mother died. He captioned it “She Taught Me to Love the Storm.”
There she described the glory of a firmament that could produce these things, and spoke of what a privilege it was for puny man to have his life enriched by this power, even if there was danger in it. Gradually the boy learned to love the storm. And all the things that make storms in life—controversy, reverses, criticism—no longer terrified him.
In this thermonuclear age when man-made lightning dwarfs the thunderbolts of nature, what greater gift can a parent leave to his child than the gift of courage? And to teach your child to live with lightning. A modern child today has no assurances of any safe places, bombs or no bombs, yet he/she has, compared to previous decades, a much better chance of a longer lifespan. It is a time for vigorous and enthusiastic youth (not for sissies and whiners) for they will inherit and define the near future.
Role of Parents
A parent these days needs to give the child a balanced diet of security and struggles. The child must have love but not the surfeiting love that smothers self-reliance. The child must feel the whip and goad of struggle, but not to the point where he/she is shattered by insecurity.
A good allowance, perhaps electronic gadgets like TV, PCs, Smartphone, motorbike/scooter even a Jeep or a car or SUV and the ever handy and simple mobile phone, etc. but more important is imbibing in the child a sense of values like for example, the joy of earning, the great growing-up lift of a reward for a job well done. This may include helping the family to resolve a problem, the understanding of work that would make him/her respect the fruits of the works of others. And of course, the inexpressible happiness that comes to a boy/girl who finds he/she is being treated like a man/woman.
Too many parents are quick to back off when kids object or complain. They bail them out of tough spots and make excuses or give in when the going gets tough. Kids are long term investments, and parents have to stop making short terms decisions about them. Children must be encouraged in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and creativity above examination results and material success.
A century ago, the first issue of Reader’s Digest, February 1922 featured in its lead article, American inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1920) and his belief that self-education is a life-long affair: “The very first essential of any education is to observe. Observe! Remember! Compare! It is the foundation of all education.”
For this, parents need to spend quality time with children at interesting places, use positive reinforcement to build self-esteem and foster love and togetherness. As novelist Phillip Pullman emphasised: “Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need food and fresh air and play.”
It is also a fact that youth in general whether school-going or not, are keen to learn more about their customs, traditions, even the laws of nature like day and night, sunlight, rain, lightning, thunderstorms, floods, time for planting and harvesting, what kind of birds fly where and why and when and how. The seedling stage is the most important phase of a plant’s lifespan. Its process of growth takes time and cannot be rushed. Then gradually one can see the tip of the plant peeping out and then after a while it sprouts.
All the while, the gardener has to ensure it receives adequate water nourishment and plucking of weeds and pests that may hamper its growth and then weeks later it blooms. In similar way a child is nourished in its growth. So, “Discipline your children while they are young enough to learn. If you don’t you are helping them to destroy themselves.” (Proverbs 19:18). For character-building is the basis of every society.
When it comes to the essential basics, Guy Wright wrote in the San Francisco Examiner: “If you are a happy parent, you give your son or daughter an invaluable legacy. It doesn’t matter very much whether you’re rich or poor—although, let’s not delude ourselves, rich is better. But if the choice is between happy-poor and unhappy rich, the children of a laughing pauper are the ones to envy. They will grow up with the expectation that life is good, that the world is a sunny and friendly place, that other people are as human and decent as they are, that it’s fun to be alive. And with that attitude, they can accomplish almost anything.”
As Dutch painter (1853-1890) Vincent van Gogh (pronounced Gok) used to motivate, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” And “Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1862), American poet, essayist and dramatist.
Meeting Trouble When It Comes
In his anthology “Courage And Confidence,” Norman Vincent Peale writes: “It is inadvisable to go out, as they say, looking for trouble. For when you make it a point of looking for trouble, you are pretty likely to find it. It will flow to you if it finds you hospitable to it.
“Trouble does come and sometimes it seems to come all at once and lots of it. So much and so true is that basic necessity of every human being is assuredly to know how to meet trouble if and when it comes.
“Since much trouble in life is self-manufactured, caused not by conditions or by other people but by ourselves, it is wise to condition the mind to the non-production of trouble. Some people have more trouble than others simply because they do not shoot away from trouble. They think in terms of trouble, or they are careless, or their acts are not designed wisely, and they draw trouble to themselves.
“Others think positively and conduct themselves around with fortuitous circumstances in such a manner that they hedge themselves and literally beat back trouble. But there is no assurance that trouble will not enter into the life of every man. He must then have resources built into him over long days when things were fortuitous, when favourable winds and smooth seas were kind to the craft of his life.
“He who does not prepare for storms when no storms are indicated is lacking in the plain preparatory wisdom required by any rational person. The fact is that storms and troubles will come. They may be delayed, even long delayed, but ultimately they will come. So, therefore one must buttress oneself inwardly, prepare oneself in the spirit, condition oneself in the mind, so that when trouble finally comes he or she will have the equipment and the resources with which to handle it constructively.”
Seven years ago in April 2015, Indian badminton player Saina Nehwal stated in YourStory.com, “Setbacks are part of life, you cannot wish them away. I think you have to deal with them so that you can come back stronger.”
The Holy Bible says God does not keep His child immune from trouble, no matter how real or intense the adversities may be….“I will be with him in trouble.” (Psalm 91:15).
Resilience of The Human Spirit
In “Psychology Today” (Feb. 1972) by E.L. Quarantelli and Russell Dynes write: “Catastrophes has always been a basic ingredient of human dramas ranging from Old Testament epics to newspaper stories and second-rate films. Our strongest impressions of how people behave in the face of fire and flood come from such accounts……In the face of catastrophes, does man instinctively turn tail or stand his ground? Research reveals the reassuring truth……The reality of events suggests that human beings are amazingly controlled and resilient in the face of adversity. Perhaps heroism—not panic or shock—is the right word to describe their most common behaviour in time of disaster.”
An article headlined “A Feeling For Priorities” in Newsweek magazine of May 08, 1995, by American pilot Arnold Benson who flew a B-26 Martin Marauder before the final spring of the Second World War described how after his first bomb run over a target in Germany, he started to shake and gave the controls to his co-pilot. He was 21 years old while his four other flight mates were even younger. “A few minutes later,” he wrote, “I was all right and took back the controls. Completing that mission taught me that, no matter how scared I am, I can handle anything while the crisis is right there, breathing on me. Afterwards I may blow sky-high—but that’s afterwards—and I learned one lesson: don’t panic.”
He adds, “A feeling for priorities, a sense of what not to choke about. It gave the rationale of all agony; if you can live through this minute—or hour or day or week—maybe the next hour will be better. Sometimes, one develops an antenna to find funny aspects in the grim. That’s essential for survival—-awareness of the ludicrous gives your boat buoyancy in any of life’s stormy crossings. I developed an undying appreciation for that everyday ongoing miracle, the resilience of the human spirit.”
Hope and Courage
“A community is not unlike an individual. Before it fully ripens and matures, it must drink deeply of the wine of life. It has to taste sorrow as well as joy, failure no less than success, and disappointment equally with rewards. It has to experience struggle and storm if it is fully to appreciate quiet and calm” — Angus MacDonald, former Prime Minister of Nova Scotia.
Hope and courage banish fear. Almost from the beginning of recorded history, mankind has recognised that the surest antidote for fear is religious faith. Belief—and trust—in a personal God makes a man/woman bigger than himself/herself and stronger than himself/herself. The life and times of many eminent men and women the world over are testimony to this. Whether our storms come as substantial obstacles in our lives, as emotional turmoil, or as mental stress, God will still our storms “to a whisper” and guide us to a place of worship (Psalm 107: 29-30). But if you are weak in a crisis, you are weak indeed.
Therefore, in the hour of adversity be not without hope for crystal rains fall from black clouds. When the storm ends you might even see a rainbow which is a symbol, a sign of peace after the storm. The mountain cedar is born in wind and sleet, and lives a long, long time, thanks to its tough core and clinging roots. Durable are the children who have been taught to love the storm. Happy are the parents of the young mountain cedars.
Jack T. Chakhesang