Life happens, lots of time unpleasantly. The nature of the world we live in, and human nature itself being what it is, we face all sorts of challenges, problems, setbacks, upsets, frustrations, disappointments. Every day people grapple with the issues of life.
How we tackle these challenges and obstacles we face in our daily living plays a major role in how our life turns out.
Nowhere in the world, including well-developed societies, do we see utopia, or a perfect society: human beings face issues every single day, battling life’s hard road. The developed world knows how to tackle those challenges, with skill and common sense.
This attitude to life applies to individuals, and also nations. We Guyanese wake up to such a blessed land. That war now ongoing, with several countries joining to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, seems so far away from us. The acute hunger situation in sub-Saharan Africa; deadly natural disasters, as happened in Japan and Iceland last week with massive fiery volcanic eruptions: these things don’t affect Guyana.
In our rivers and mountains and fertile land and sunny days and economic growth year after year we stand among the privileged of this world. So many nations suffer so much social, economic and military trauma. We in the Caribbean stand with North America and Europe as the most stable, peaceful and progressive places on the planet.
Yet, we do face challenges and daily obstacles. Mankind has not designed a utopia anywhere in the world, and even the world’s most powerful leader, US President Barack Obama, battles challenges daily too, facing criticism as a routine course.
So life’s not a smooth road. That’s something each of us must accept, and face and tackle with courage, strength and inner determination, ready and willing to engage the forces that oppose our dreams, aspirations and goals.
This applies to us individually, but also as a nation. The Guyanese people stand on a firm foundation, a blessed landscape, our Caribbean family and South American region cushioning us in a region ready to hone our place in the global scheme of things as the 21st century unfolds.
What’s stopping us is how we respond and react to what happens to us.
We inculcated the nasty habit to sit and complain and cuss and become crass and abuse alcohol and drugs and refuse to read literature and take our profound blessings so much for granted. We don’t see the bright hot sun warming our hearts. Instead we see the dark clouds hovering way off in the horizon, predicting gloom and doom. For 50 years we’ve reacted to our national life with pessimism, scapegoating, and divisive strife and dissent.
An individual learns essential life skills, professional development skills and knowledge management skills with the single-minded purpose of tackling life, of conquering the issues and obstacles that stand in our way. Just like a baby must learn to resist gravity to stand upright and walk, we must develop muscles and the skills necessary to resist the reality of the world order, that tendency for things to fall apart.
Folks who just exist and not plan and design their life drift through their days, merely existing, and more often than not, falling through the cracks. People who do not maintain their lives simply fall apart.
So it’s imperative that we learn the art of facing the issues of living in this broken world, with the willingness to react and respond with wisdom, sense and careful planning.
How we respond to what happens is crucially important.
One might argue that the issues of survival really supersede everything else in life, and so such abstract stuff as how we react to the world around us become secondary, or not at all important. But even how we survive and earn our living depends on our attitude, how we react and respond.
The human being is a meaning-making machine: we make everything mean something. For example, we may hear someone say something bad about us, and internally, deep in the recesses of our being, we interpret that to mean we are inadequate, or the person hates us, or we’re not worthy. And we allow that little comment to inform our confidence level, self-esteem and self-worth.
Were we to react to that negativity with a laugh, or a shrug and move on, never dwelling on it in the mind, our reaction and response one of casual dismissal of the comment, we would not make it mean so much. And, really, maybe all that happened was that the person was having a bad day, and the next day the person would be most happy to compliment us. But we remember that negative slight, and it tends to dictate how we relate to this person subsequently.
Whenever something happens in life we all too often make it mean something, and that meaning we attach to what happens may be just our reaction and response, and not in fact based on what the event actually means.
These are subtle things, little hidden blind-spots that erode whole lives, causing the human being to live small, powerless and unable to face the world and its ways.
Add up a citizenry of people reacting and responding to life with attitude that is unworkable, and a nation suffers immeasurable stagnation in its social development.
We must analyze how we react and respond to what’s happening in our nation, as much as we must introspect about how we respond to what’s happening to us individually.
Once we find that how we respond and react doesn’t work out well, how could we transform our ability to react and respond?
This is where literacy, a close attention to self-development of the individual, and constant learning come in: we must be willing to face life, face the world, face the issues that define us as the Guyanese nation, and tackle them with intelligence, wisdom, good conscience, and pure hearts of goodwill, common sense and patient cooperation.
Whatever happens, happens. That’s how the world works. What must concern us is constant alignment to the vision and goal of our life, and not being caught up in temporary circumstances and situations.