Looking into the Eyes of Adversity

essay of the month

“I can’t, it is impossible,” said a foiled lieutenant, to Alexander. “Begone,” shouted the conquering Macedonian, “there is nothing impossible to him who will try.” Indeed, nothing is impossible before the resolute strength of the indomitable will. It is this will and tenacity of the purpose alone that help men extract freedom from subservience, accomplishments from failures, successes from misfortunes, and applauds from rebukes. While pondering over the victories and the successes characteristics of the life-long struggles of great men and women of the human race, the curiosity that arrests attention is of knowing the ‘secret ingredient’ behind their imposing triumphs. Paradoxical though it may seem, the fact is that there is but no secret ingredient and that there exists but no royal road that leads towards illustrious achievements. The path has always been the same and the old, well-trodden one; by way of hardships and obstinacy.

Life may throw an individual into the abysses of poverty and obscurity, but if the optimism continues to prevail amidst a strong resolve to not to give up, the same rifts will serve the role of the greatest teacher and will teach him how to seize upon whatever is at hand. Most of the eminent scholars related to the knowledge of financial gains and losses, and of the activities of commerce, and whose opinions to this day are considered an authority in their corresponding disciplines, were, in fact, to the marginal extremes, from the humblest of the origins. They learned in their early ages that it took one hundred cents to make a dollar.

A person may find harsh and unfavourable surroundings around him. Amidst these sorrows and sufferings, he may wonder or find it difficult to conclude what good can come out of all such trials and tribulations. He may find his friends parting off, his powers yielding to hardships and his genius faltering by the side of labour. Such a hard encounter of experiencing everything turning into dark and foreboding or running into dead ends is by every means mighty enough to cast a person deep into dungeons—dungeons that are known for the elements that combine to hedge up the way forever, and for sure. However, the same time if renders to the optimism of human will and to the best of human judgements, will help one know and learn what Holland puts as, “We rise by the things that are under our feet; By what we have mastered of good or gain.”

It is the rock-ribbed hills and destitute deserts from where sprang the greatest commanders of human race. The greatest benefactors and leaders rose not from the imposing palaces and towering castles but from the homes unknown to luxuries and from the ranks crowded by the desperate toils.

It is said of the great men and may also be incurred from the folds of history that they never waited for opportunities; they created them. What was All India Muslim League more than a political entity or body that is hesitant, dwindling and subservient never to accomplish anything great or like a satellite, void of self-control, oscillating between one opinion and another, mired by indecisiveness and with its loyalty strongly linked to a power out of its own whole, when Muhammad Ali Jinnah joined it? At this juncture, political might of the Congress, the rival political camp, is also worth noting that is dominating the environment so much so to the eclipse of all other. But to confront these challenges at dual fronts, one from within —the AIML that is wavering and fragile and the Congress that is overwhelmingly assertive and the other from the Colonialist imperial powers pitted pervasively to deny the locales of their right to self-determination, Muslims find in Muhammad Ali Jinnah a Quaid to whom opposing circumstance means more strength, opposition for more power to resist and confronting one barrier signifies into ability to overcome the next. Thoughts that wander, eyes that blanch, nerves that relax were unknown to Jinnah’s self-poised mind. Through rectitude and firmness of his personality, he led his people up through the Indians’ belligerent minds, up through the Britain’s imperial rule, and liberated them and made them stand on foundations supplied with permanent flow of nationalistic aspirations.

The life of the legend Robert the Bruce furnishes for us one of the most remarkable insights; he drew his victory not from the benevolence of others and also not from the distorted frightened outlook of his adversary but out of some of the most terrifying experiences. Six times he tried to save his land from the devastating advance of his enemy and six times his stand met with utter embarrassment. But then fascinated by the obstinate determination of a spider which was trying again and again to swing herself upon the slender thread to make her way towards the other edge of the cave and finally succeeded, Robert arose, strived to unite his men, and offered his enemy a last stand. The stroke was decisive; enemy’s army was perished, their ranks were severed forcing the King of England to retreat thus marking the day with his gallantry at the end of the battle. His majestic statue at the Bannockburn battlefield communicates us a simple yet much-celebrated sense that the victories should be won and gifts should be discovered by everyone within one’s own soul.

See how the magnificent monuments and statues are formed; they are chiselled into grace and beauty from weirdly-looking rocks through the operations of blasting, drilling, hammering and squaring—the very processes that are otherwise, quintessentially, terribly awful. “Who best can suffer,” said Milton, “best can do” at a time when he, himself, was overtaken by blindness, sickness and desperate wants, however, remained unyielding and produced the best of his works. The strongest and the most refined characters of mankind, in fact, evolved on the bed of a stubborn soil and amidst the elements of a trying climate.

Isn’t the story of Disraeli remarkable who because of his origin from a race most hated and most persecuted in the then Britain was lampooned, mocked and ridiculed time and again? Aided by his bitter experiences with the misfortunes, and strengthened by enough failures and defeats in his bag, he suffered not even the least for he knew that from these ugly gashes often flowed the perennial fountains of richest melodies. And the fountain did flow from the wide chasm of which trickled down the Britain a quarter of century the sceptre of which was completely swayed by this boy—the Disraeli.

It is almost natural for anyone to confront barriers who endeavours to elevate himself from the circumstances he is born to or was raised in. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as if you could not hold on a minute longer,” said Harriet Beecher Stowe, “never give up, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”  Charles Sumner said, “Three things are necessary to a strong character: First, backbone; second, backbone; third, backbone” as “It is victory after victory with the soldier,” asserts Orison Swett, “lesson after lesson with the scholar, blow after blow with the labourer, crop after crop with the farmer, picture after picture with the painter, and mile after mile with the traveller that secures what all so much desire—Success.”  

All great men and women owe their chief accomplishments to this spirit of ‘never giving up’. Otherwise, what was Jinnah other than the son of a merchant, Shakespeare than the descendant of a wool stapler, Benjamin Franklin of a candle maker, and Horace than that of a scion of a shopkeeper?

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