Over the course of any given week, our modern day news is full of stories of human suffering and adversity. I often wonder if we are facing more adversity in 2007 than in years past, or are we just being bombarded in real time about every single incident that occurs around the world from a plethora of media including newspapers; radio; TV; and the many facets of the Internet? In this Lesson, I would like to discuss adversity from the past and present and how to prepare to bounce back.
I do not believe that I might be described as a news junkie; however I do digest my fair share of world and local news daily by reading newspapers, magazines, and watching TV. A day does not go by without learning about the tremendous adversity people face in their lives. There is no end to what you can read, view or listen to, about the destruction of lives or property. First let's look at natural disasters such as hurricanes; fires; floods; tornadoes; earthquakes; tsunamis; or volcanoes. Homes, businesses, hospitals and churches are destroyed every week from these natural disasters somewhere in the world. Lives are lost and residents are displaced. Humanitarian efforts are made to ease the suffering, however each person and enterprise affected by natural disasters are ultimately responsible to bounce back on their own and rebuild their future. When we witness these events from the comforts of our homes, our hearts go out to those affected and we may make donations to help their cause. However it won't be long before the next tragedy is reported and our emotions are stirred all over again.
Did you often wonder what happens to those unfortunate people affected by natural disasters once the immediate news coverage ends? For instance what happened to all the residents of Greensburg, Kansas after their town was blown off the map by a vicious tornado on May 4th, 2007. Where did everyone go when their homes and businesses were instantly destroyed and their lives were turned into a nightmare scenario? How will they pick up the pieces of their lives and face the next day; the next week; the next month? The answer to all of these questions will describe the incredible DNA of the human spirit. It's difficult to assume that anyone can ever be prepared for something like this to happen to them. Yet people have no choice when adversity hits like this. They must find a way to bond together and muster up the will to survive and do everything humanly possible to rebuild their lives.
As we know, adversity has many faces. It arrives in the form of mass murders, similar to what was experienced at Virginia Tech; or suicide bombings that take the lives of the innocent. It arrives daily to the families of the military, when they learn that their loved ones have fallen or been seriously wounded in war. It arrives in hospitals daily when precious lives expire or terminal diagnoses are handed out to the families of their loved ones. Adversity comes in all sizes, shapes, and degrees of intensity and has no limits to the pain and suffering it can dole out. Yet somehow the world must continue to move on. Just as we expect the sun to rise and set on schedule, we expect those challenged by adversity to find ways to deal with it.
I believe it's safe to say that everyone must deal with adversity during their lifetime. No one is immune. The degree of adversity one faces varies tremendously. However we must all deal with it. In the past we had the likes of Hitler cast adversity on millions of families of those he murdered during a short window of history. At the time, there wasn't instant reporting of each of his heinous actions by the media. The by-product of Hitler's actions also resulted in the loss of tens of millions of lives of the brave military, who committed themselves to stop him. And the families of the military suffered the same adversity as the families of those Hitler murdered. Yet somehow all those that survived, who were affected by Hitler's brutal actions, found a way to continue living.
The lesson we must all learn from the extreme cases of adversity that many will face, is to learn to deal with the minor doses of adversity first. We need to allow children to learn to face adversity head on. Kids always face minor adversities as they grow up. It's important that they overcome them and not retreat. Too often retreating from the small things you fear, will ill prepare you for more serious adversities you will surely face. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said "The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself!" When those residents of Greensburg, Kansas lost everything instantly, being fearful of the future was not an option. They needed to search for answers, plan quickly and act decisively to survive. If children learn to handle small adversities often, I believe they will grow into mature adults and be better prepared for the larger challenges they will surely face. Everyone needs to develop the mindset to bounce back from small problems before they can bounce back from large ones. Likewise one needs to be able to withstand small doses of pain, before they can deal with larger doses they will someday endure. In most cases, how you bounce back from great adversity, will depend on how you prepared yourself and handled the smaller challenges you faced throughout your life.