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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Failing in Spite of Trying!

I tried for a second time to get out of bed with the little strength I’ve got left following the long time I’ve been spending in bed. Of course, it could be much worse. I haven’t totally been cut off from society. With all its criticisms, technology has enabled me to keep in touch with the world.

I’m even started doing my work from home for a number of days now.
But, it pains me that, in spite of trying to get out of bed on my own, I must accept the fact that, right now, even transferring to my wheelchair is something I cannot do on my own.

I was sad when I realise that I have come to this point. But I have been trying to do my best. Or perhaps I am not doing enough. I remain grateful for the fact that I have retained enough strength to get better. If I keep trying.

It’s tempting for us to believe that others will solve our problems or blame others for our problems. I know that those who believe God is in control of their destiny tend to expect that God will solve their problems. I looked at life that way when I was younger and less mature.

Yet, the fact is that, if we want to move forward, we need to take personal responsibility for our own actions. We shouldn’t expect miracles to happen.

The very fact that I’m still breathing after all these years is a miracle in itself.

Not that my life is ‘extraordinary’ as some have told me. Yes, I’ve been through a lot already but I chose to go on. I may have chosen to end it all. But I didn’t. Not because I am brave or courageous but, rather, it was because I fear death. Or, actually, that I feared death.

Inasmuch as death is such a scary prospect for many, I have come to accept it as part of my future. For the promise of death isn’t a reason to die. Indeed, it is a reason to live. And while my life’s failures appear to be moments when I come to cry and to regret, without them I would never succeed.

For unpleasant as it might be, a failure means that you have tried. For if you always succeed in whatever you do on your first attempt, where would your satisfaction be?

If life was so easy, so free from challenges and difficulties, would their be a point in living? This is difficult to answer. And, we can’t answer it because we are human beings.
We idealise a life where no one dies, when we become perfect incarnations of humanity. When we don’t have to suffer in any way.

Yet, I wonder whether in our state of immortal perfection, we will still be able to feel compassion to others or, else, become no different than the mythical gods of ancient Greece where others became mere objects of play and manipulation.

Our life may be not that much when you think about it. We live to die. We change from healthy young children with a will to love and be loved, only to find ourselves old and, sometimes, tired of living. But amidst the sadness, the despair and the disenchantment we might experience, there is so much more to celebrate.


There’s still much we can do. So much we can do. Life is impermanent, yes, but that is all the more reason to try to live it to the full and make the best of it. Its an opportunity to change for the better the life of those who are still chained by injustice, violence and by inequality.

There will always be failure.

There will always be lost lives.

There will always be tragedies and deaths.

Pride would lead us to forfeit our responsibility and blame others or even a god but never ourselves. Humility, on the other hand, bids us to accept our failure as an invitation to learn.

Pride will tell us that we don’t depend on anyone. Humility teaches us that we are co-dependent.
Pride deludes us into believing that we will live forever. Humility reminds us that we are living on borrowed time.

At this point, I feel I have failed in spite of trying. Pride tells me that I have failed as a person for having to ask for help (yet again). Humility reassures me that this a chance to try my best again and accept the fact that needing one another is part of being human.

There’s no shame in failing if one has genuinely tried to do better.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Day of Reflection

To begin….

Over here in Malta, we’ll be having the elections tomorrow - the 9th March 2013. An event that normally happens every five years. It’s a time when we will have a chance to have a say in the running of our country. Yet, we often take the democratic process we have today too much. For granted. We don’t realise that the vote and the democratic process may be the best form of political system we have. And, even then, we may not know that the democracy we have today isn’t like that of ancient Greece, were only the rich and privileged had a vote. Or, the ‘democracy’ were only men of a certain class were allowed to vote while more than half of the population, women, were excluded. Their vote didn’t count.

Today was also a day of reflection. A day when all political expression in the media or for public consumption is, technically, illegal. But, how many of us actually appreciate the right to vote we have in our democracies? How much do politicians are really interested in the betterment of society, or are they more interested in gaining our vote for the sake of power? I will not be tackling the second question because I leave it to you to judge on your own the political merits of respective candidates. However, before this day is over, I wanted to share a few thoughts and reflections, together from some quotes which have helped me believe that, while I’m still denied the right to vote in secret, I have the right to vote. And, while alone I will not bring about a revolution, I can make a difference. But I cannot make that difference on my own.

Questions, Quotes, etc.

Do I really appreciate the right I have to vote?

Do I believe that I can express my anger and frustration by simply voting because of personal interests or motivations?

Can I afford NOT to vote and forfeit my right to vote?

But, then, is the vote just a right or a duty I have to my society?

Would I, by wasting or abusing my right to vote also going against what I believe in?

“It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.”  Albert Einstein


What about truth?

Have I really thought over my decision in voting?

Did what I heard in political speeches and debates faithful to the truth?


M I ready to follow a leader just because I have learned not to question?

Does the leader talk a lot about himself and not about how he’ll make our society better?

Have I bothered to go beyond what parties are telling me and dared to ask the right questions?

Am I following the party just because I feel a sense of belonging or because I sincerely think that the party is in tune with the values it purports to hold?

Do I honestly believe that as long as I’m comfortable after the elections,I don’t care about the rest?

Aren’t we all dependent on each other in our society? Or in our lives?

Aren’t other people’s losses but my own?

Am I prepared to do the right thing, even if it might hurt at first?

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
How?

how did the respective parties tackled issues facing minorities or excluded groups?


How did they deal with people of different opinions, faith or belief?

Do they believe that the majority should decide on human rights and that human beings don’t have a right to dignity and respect they deserve without needing to justify their life?

Finally...

Has the political rhetoric intoxicate our minds and hearts as to forget that we share a common humanity and inasmuch as we hold our political beliefs, we remain subject to the same pains and pleasures this life has to offer.

We live in a society made up of individuals. Yet neither can society impose itself on the individual nor the individual can exist without a society. That’s why I chose to right this entry on this day of reflection. Not because I’m not a bit anxious about voting tomorrow and its possible aftermath. But I wanted to reassure myself that whatever I vote tomorrow, I hope to vote with a clear mind and be true to my beliefs and convictions.

I may be unhappy with the result if it doesn’t follow on my choices. But, if anything, I will sleep on Saturday night with a peaceful conscience because I know that I did what I could. I was true to my own self.

Nobody knows what the future will be like. Perhaps I’ll discover that there open new possibilities that I was never aware of. The truth I believe in fills me with the will to live on. I want a society that is equal, just and more compassionate. I can’t expect that all all these aspirations will be achieved if I don’t play my part. However, I cannot deny that Malta has progressed a lot in all these areas. Granted, there’s still things to be done. But, come what may, we all need to continue working together. I end this entry by another two quotes that helped me to restore a certain hope in the future ahead. As for me, there’s not much to add. Just to remember to vote with a clear mind and a compassionate heart.

And remember:
“whether your cause has many or few adherents, truth will still prevail.” HH the 14th Dalai Lama


Or, if you feel you have failed in your cause, remember the words of Gandhi:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” Mohandas K.  Gandhi