Brevis Ipas Vita Est Sed Malis Fit Longior – Adversity

Father Mulcahy 3The title is Latin for “Life is short, but trouble makes it longer.”  Recently I was reminded of the power and blessing of adversity.  One of the comments that struck me was, “You will all experience your own Gethsemane’s.”  Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives and became famous in the New Testament for the place where Jesus went to pray and, according to the New Testament, completed the atonement.  Gethsemane remains a symbol of hope for people experiencing trouble, difficulty, or adversity.  However, the thought of us experiencing our own Gethsemane individually intrigues me as a concept.

One of the scriptures that holds a lot of hope for me comes from the Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 7-9:

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands
.

Nowhere is recorded how long Jesus spent in Gethsemane; one might presume the time was longer than an hour, but less than 8 hours.  Beyond that, I cannot guess and will not venture an opinion.  However, the thought that adversity will be but a small moment rings like an eternal truth in my mind.  Let me elaborate on this point, my wife and I spent 6-months homeless, living out of our car, showering at her mom’s apartment, and working as often as I could find work.  During this time, I was studying for a master’s in business administration and struggling with depression for feeling like an absolute failure for not being able to provide a home for my spouse.Adversity is an advantage to embrace, not an annoyance to avoid. | Art Coombs Art Coombs

Yet, as I look back on this homelessness period, it seems but a small moment.  While I know mentally that the timeframe was six excruciating months, the truth is that the adversity felt like a moment even during the adversity and the months following.  My friends found during this time were such an incredible solace; my wife’s family and even my studies became lifts to my spirit and a balm to my mental processes.  How grateful I am for the adversity that has shaped me since this event and the incredible people who supported my wife and me.

Interestingly, in M*A*S*H 4077, the final episode “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the poignancy of Father Mulcahy’s predicament with losing his hearing has become more meaningful since this episode of homelessness.  Indeed life is lived forward and understood backward.  As Father Mulcahy said, “What good is a deaf priest?”  The value is found in learning and living, but the learning and living is the adversity shaping us physically, mentally, and spiritually.Grit - Defined

Long have I pondered what a piece of clay must think as it is placed on a potter’s wheel, and if it realizes that when the potter is done, the adversity on that wheel will make it something beautiful, useful, or both.  Whether you believe in god, God, or gods, what are the adversities in your life making out of you, and will you recognize yourself when the potter is done?  Will you care what the potter has made you?  Those two questions lay on my mind, not with weight, but nonetheless with power.  A final question struck me as Father Mulcahy was marrying Klinger and Sun Lee, will we respect the potter for the work invested in creating us through adversity?

30 Best Adversity Quotes To Regain The Courage | Brainy ReadersIt’s no secret to those who have known me that I did not like serving in the US Navy and the pressure cooker of the USS Barry (DDG 52) from 2000-2004.  I have often cursed and shook my fist at the sky over the experiences during the US Navy.  Yet, even now, the experiences in the US Navy are felt as a small moment, and time does help heal wounds.  Better still, time tends to soften the edges, and one of the other things I have found is that how we choose changes how we remember.  I loved being “haze grey and underway” in the navy.  Many things were better while sailing that worsened to the point of breaking while in port.  More to the point, being “haze grey and underway” was always an adventure, fun, and never dull, even while pulling five and dime watch standing, doing maintenance on a pitching deck, or even climbing the mast while underway to fix something broke.

Adversity QuotesMajor Winchester leaving M*A*S*H in a garbage truck reminds me of my time in the US Navy, very appropriate.  As soon as Major Winchester came to M*A*S*H 4077, I watched to see what pranks could be done to Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third.  I loved watching Charles become the butt of a joke.  Yet, even as I type, I cannot help but wonder, was a garbage truck appropriate; is it disrespectful of the potter to see another person struggle and heap more scorn upon them?  Charles’ life changed dramatically and horribly; his ways of thinking, the path of his life, and even his belief in his own self-worth were constantly challenged and scrutinized.  I can understand Charles’ experiences more now than at any time previously.

Having been homeless multiple times in my life, one of my greatest difficulties is seeing someone putting up their petition for help and not being able to help.  I know there are a lot of scams out there, but that has never mattered to me; not being able to help bothers me greatly.  The war in Ukraine, the orphans left after war and storms, the hunger and depravity in this world, those individual adversities we see all around us.  I always want to help.  Long have I thought if I could relieve an ounce, a dram, a smidge of suffering, I could sleep better at night or know I succeeded at something.  Life has taught me how to fight, then it taught me how to think, and then my body was injured, and I am left stuck somewhere in between—proving that adversity comes in many shapes, colors, sizes, and types!Adversity Quotes

Please know, I am not maudlin or melancholy about my life.  I have some great stories, met some truly amazing people, and lived to tell those tales.  All I ever wanted out of life was to be “an interesting old person,” and if I can keep reading and thinking, and especially writing, I should be able to tell some of those stories.  If I died tomorrow, I could say I lived a rich, full life, with no regrets.  I have no complaints and look forward to learning a lot more.  Bringing up another exciting facet of adversity, the learning that comes through adversity.

For example, did you know you do not teach adults?  Anyone who tells you differently does not know what they are talking about.  Teaching only happens to children, and if those kids are like me, barely even then.  For adults, you help them see their life experiences in a new light, applying existing knowledge to current situations to improve how they think.  You do not teach adults; they teach themselves; as an adult educator, my job is to help them learn how to think.15 Quotes About Overcoming Adversity Never to Forget

I know a kid, now an adult, who had been molested, beaten, and suffered greatly.  Growing into a scrappy adult, this child had experienced the horrible and survived.  Sure, you might teach this kid how to reach a formulaic solution, but the core knowledge of life, this kid held a doctorate.  Adversity had trained this kid how to think, how to act, how to understand, and how to fight back.  While other kids learned how to wield a bat and hit a ball, this kid was learning how to throw punches, duck, dodge, and handle pain.  While some kids learned how to cook, this kid already knew how to cook and could make meals out of practically anything.  Adversity taught this kid, and the student was worthy of the master’s teachings how I have longed to be as apt a pupil to adversity’s teachings as this kid.A Layman's Blog: Pasternak on adversity.............

When considering the potter, as we are placed upon the wheel, then into a kiln, are we clay, easily molded, or a rock choosing to be chased off the potter’s wheel for refusing to change and be moldable?  A young adult uttered the saddest commentary on life I have ever heard.  My father did it this way; his father did it this way; his father did it this way; going back as far as family memory can relate, I am doing it this way.  When I saw the stubbornness of this person, I felt like weeping for the potential lost to generations who choose not to change.  Adversity gets us asking questions; for me, those questions are always about how I improve—improving myself, a process, an environment, the situation, anything that can be changed to drive improvements.John Wooden Quote: "Adversity often produces an unexpected opportunity. Look for it ! Appreciate ...

Another book referred to the “captivity of the fathers.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevia sings the song of “Tradition!”  Is adversity trying to tell us there is a better way, and tradition is trying to hold us back?  In previous articles, I discussed how a friend of mine related that he is the first generation of his family who could read, and his children and grandchildren are graduating college because as a child, he was forced onto a bus, driven to Oklahoma, and forced into school and off the Indian reservation.  He experienced traumatic adversity as a child of seven.  The blessing of that adversity has lived and made him every day since, but to make him, the traditions of his fathers had to be forced out of his mind by formal education hundreds of miles from his northern Arizona home.  I weep for that little boy but cheer for the man he became and cherish my friendship with a man who had to justify two worlds.  Beware the traditions of your fathers so they do not become captivity your children must suffer to escape.

Not for any other purpose than trying and making the adversarial moment something I do not have to repeat.  I have repeated too many adversarial moments; there must be a better way to live!  For example, I was forced into bankruptcy twice!  I hope to learn from my mistakes, and if anyone knows how to raise money, improve earnings, and live more fully within one’s means, I am all ears!  If you know how to monetize a website, I will trade for this knowledge and assistance.  Bringing up another powerful tool of adversity, placing us into situations where we can help and will choose to be helped.Adversity Opportunity Quotes. QuotesGram

One of the reasons why some adversarial incidents last as long as they do is because we are proud people, and giving help is easier than accepting help and multitudes of times easier than asking for help.  My first time homeless, I had to get off the streets as walking the streets all night was interfering with my ability to work a complete shift.  Plus, it was cold, and those nights in Auburn, Washington in October and November were miserable!  So, I asked for help from a church, and asking for help was one of the most challenging events in my life.  In fact, asking for help has never gotten easier with time or experience.  I would rather get beat with a brick stick than ask for help; is it any wonder that pride is one of the seven deadly sins?Adversity | Adversity, Lds quotes, Church quotes

To ask for help, I felt I needed to have a plan to repay the money.  I demanded that I stick with that repayment schedule, even after being told, very kindly, that I did not have to repay and that there was no debt to repay.  How often do we make the pains and problems of adversity worse because we struggle to ask for help or feel a need to repay debts when there are no debts?  The reality is that when adversity appears to drag on and on without end, being a relentless taskmaster, many times I am the problem making adversity worse.Adversity Quotes By Famous People. QuotesGram

Bring us back to that garden near the Mount of Olives and the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Leaving me with a final question, how do I know when enough is sufficient?  I do not know how to answer this question, nor am I sure I am asking the right question; I merely know that adversity is not occurring because the intelligence’s of the universe want to see me struggle, adversity is not happening because I committed a crime or deserved being punished.  Adversity is a tool that helps us gain strength and I am weak, and the only way to get my attention is to put me in situations where I can grow through the things I suffer.  But help is always available; this is another lesson adversity teaches.  Help, assistance, support, we are not left bereft of these in our times of need, and this is a comfort and a hope.

Knowledge Check!Let us choose to be more charitable, relieve suffering where we can, ask for help when we need, and choose to make today a little better than yesterday through our involvement in the world around us.  I am not asking anyone to go broke helping those putting up their petitions, and it does not matter where the money goes.  Be the hand reaching out, and you WILL always find a hand reaching out to you; this is the final lesson adversity teaches us.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

America: Unity is Our Strength

President Lincoln, quoted the New Testament, and said, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Since the 1960s cultural rebellions by the children of the day, America has been slowly and inexorably torn asunder.  We have been split along racial lines, in the name of racial equality.  We have been split along sex lines, in the name of love, peace, and harmony.  We have seen rabid separation along political lines to the point where a sitting president can feel safe in physically threatening the lives of political opponents and never be held accountable.  We have seen the dumbing down of America’s children through K-12 Education, and then the propagandization of those minds in colleges.  We have seen neighbors trying to help neighbors and had the fist of government, wielded by petty authoritarians, create angst and trouble.  We have witnessed a complicit and biased media throw away common sense for political power, and openly aid and abet criminals in their work of destroying America.

Worst of all, we have seen activist judges usurp power from the legislative and executive branches and creating laws for America from whole cloth.  Members of the House and Senate, the legislative branch, now regularly feel they can usurp the powers of the executive with the help of the judicial branch and their media cheerleaders.  We have seen the executive branch crumble, and American’s have died with no help ever arriving.

Social Justice Warrior 3All these problems and more have torn at the basic and fundamental power American’s have always held, unity.  Unity born of hope, fed a diet of accomplishment, nurtured with education and exposure to work.  The unity of farmers has seen America fed.  The unity of churches has seen America support religious freedoms and become a bulwark to religious beliefs.  The unity of schools of higher education kept standards for academic performance that paved the way for great minds to leave academia prepared to lead industries and stand against tyranny and oppression.  The unity of the states has allowed America to weather fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and every other natural disaster.

Unity of being “AMERICAN,” UN-hyphenated, whole, and linked with other American’s has seen compassion thrive, poverty fought, and hunger abated.  Americans, (Ah Me I Can) is a statement of power. The power of “I can” built the Panama Canal and changed the world.  When hundreds of people committed, who were and accustomed to the motivating power of “I Can” and stood shoulder to shoulder, two World Wars were fought and won, hundreds of brush-fire wars were scuttled and despots removed for the betterment of society.

When America forgot the power of “I Can” Vietnam fell into disarray and ruin and those who lost lives never came home.  Cuba and Venezuela have been lost to communism and tyranny.  The Ukraine has all but become a territory of Russia.  Alliances have been written off, red-lines crossed with impunity, and more people have lost their lives.  The political left was able to force shame upon the body of America, and in so doing captured power that never should have been theirs.  Refusing America, the ability of coming together and unifying after Vietnam, the political left kept pushing new powers of separation, new lines of contention, and new causes for concern until chaos reigns and terrorists can be called “peaceful protestors.”

Religion Quote 2America has suffered since the 1960s from the disease of disunity.  We have failed to grasp the power we all possess, which is exponentially greater than the sum of our individual numbers, when we boldly stand and commit to “I Can” America’s enemies quake and pale.  Combined, “I Can” does not become “We Can.”  Combined, the power of “I Can,” is a force greater than “We” because each person shoulders their own load, looks after their own families and friends first, and in doing so multiplies the power of “I Can” into the wonder and majesty that has lured millions of people to come to America and become citizens; that is unity in action!

        • A house divided cannot stand.  A house divided cannot long endure.  A house divided is weak and ready to be pushed over and destroyed.
        • A unified house can stand.  A unified house can long endure.  A unified house is strong and pushes back against all the winds that blow.

A principle that the political left has failed to grasp and refuses to believe, we can have differences in opinion and still be unified in purpose.  Americans have always been contentiously unified, we have regularly disagreed about ways and means, but until the 1960s cultural revolutions we remained unified in purpose, unified in belief, and unified under the rule of law.  America, we must return to being unified or we will lose this the Republic of the United States of America!

Consider how normal it has become to castigate California and New York for pushing America ever progressively leftist, socialist, and communist.  While states like Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and others are quietly moving socialist at the same or faster rates.  Instead of fighting back against this intrusion, the political leaders have embraced something that is fundamentally anathema to the majority of Americans, the loss of America.  But, these politicians could do this, because the citizenry have been so wrapped up in petty separations foisted upon us by the same people trying to destroy us.  We have lost our purpose, had our unity shredded, and remain in danger of losing America.

The Duty of AmericansAn example, illegal immigration.  If you support the rule of law, and fair play, you would see illegal immigration closed for the good of all current and future immigrants.  But, between rabid and hostile factions, a complicit media, the person opposed to illegal immigration is castigated, denigrated, and derided; while, those who are for illegal immigration, law breaking, and chaos are heralded as heroes.  Simple right and wrong, many of us were taught at our parent’s knee, but the issue has been twisted and warped until confusion reigns and the issue now divides homes, families, and communities.

One might ask, what is the purpose of America; the US Constitution’s preamble gives this answer clearly.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” [Emphasis Mine].

That is why America was created, the US Constitution written, and blood shed to establish this country. Establish justice, create domestic tranquility, improve the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our children, and provide a common defense, which leads to a more perfect union.  All this is possible through unity in purpose, where we the citizens of America understand the rule of law is a tool to meet our obligations.

Want to know how far we have fallen from being unified in purpose, look at the hostility heaped upon a person not wearing a mask in a grocery store.  Look at the vile and pernicious comments left when a police officer is killed.  Check out the hate and discontent when you simply praise on social media the sitting president for accomplishing peace deals in the Middle East.  That is where disunity and all the petty lines of separation have left America.

PatriotismToday’s America is full of hyphenated Americans, “Black-American,” “Irish-American,” “Mexican-American,” and the list goes on.  Today’s America is full of petty and pernicious lines of separation, Republican, Democrat, Atheist, Catholic, Protestant, and so many more.  Today’s America is full of hate, spite, envy, malice, and every type of egotistical maelstrom possible to keep feeding the fires that separate, divide, and destroy.  It has gotten to a point that what one watches, or does not watch on TV is now prey for creating and casting aspersions, insults, derogatory commentary, or worse physical/mental abuse and violence.

Why is America different, because our unity has always been our strength.  But, the strength of unity is like a muscle, if not used regularly it begins to shrink and atrophy.  President Lincoln said,

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as newNorth as well as South.”

Right now, America is in the same place as when President Lincoln made these remarks.  We are divided; make no mistake.  Either the opponents of America will destroy America, shred the Constitution, and remake the laws to fit their own idiocy catapulting America in socialism and thence to communism.  Or.  America will unify, rediscover her purpose, discover she is strong, and begin to thwart the evil plans of her opponents who have been elected as political leaders, placed into professorships, and held in other offices of power by the enemies of the state.

Image - Eagle & FlagPresident Lincoln’s full address can be found here and represents a blueprint for how America found herself in the first Civil War.  Pray that we quickly learn the lessons of unity, that a second Civil War is not necessary!  America must put on her strength, what strength must she put on, unity of purpose.  Casting off the chains of separation, classification, and division, and embracing unity to conquer the political will and wiles of the socialists, communists, anarchists, and fascists who have taken advantage of America’s hospitality.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
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