Tragedies Tragically Bring People Together… and Teach

Sunday, December 18, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

Okay, maybe tragedies is an extreme example, but an observation is that people throw away their differences, almost always, during hardships and when facing a common “enemy”. Examples include 9/11, the Japan tsunami, terrorist attacks, a death of a loved one, a really brutal exam (study group anyone?), and other examples that fall anywhere on an imaginary scale of how many people the event affects.

It’s tragic that sometimes, it takes a tragedy for people to come to the realization that “Hey, we’re all human beings, we share the same hardships, why not help each other out?”. I want to make it clear that by “help”, I mean helping others unconditionally.

Over time I’ve learned to be wary of actions with a condition/conditions. It’s just like my experience with most salespeople: they accentuate the good but skim the bad, if at all (personal experience: “Very good watch! Will last long! Half price for you!” (Beijing shop owner) => stops working when you get back home). We learn through our mistakes, which can be heartbreaking, painful, casual (“oh the watch stopped working… okay”), but the main thing is that a mistake is a mistake only if the lesson isn’t taken to heart. A mistake that is learned from isn’t a mistake; it’s a teaching.

In other words, to be able to move forward as a human, we need our legs (physical) and we also need the capacity for self-growth (mental). It’s very easy for many of us to literally move forward with our feet; it’s hard (very hard) sometimes to move forward in our minds, but it’s something that we have to do otherwise the mind will just be a body of still water dwelling on the same set of ideas instead of being a vessel with a constant flow of ideas, thoughts, and motivation.

“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” – Bruce Lee

The world is full of horrible people. It’s a truth that I sometimes like to ignorantly deny (which I subsequently pay for), but it’s true. People do things with the intention/motive of some sort of reward, be it recognition, praise, money, affection, a gift, revenge, spite; a whole mix of benign and malignant outcomes. For this reason, I really respect people who volunteer in charities and for different causes (people who do things without the intention of getting much/anything back). What they’re ultimately giving is their time, which is the most precious commodity anyone can give as you can never get it back and it’s priceless.

There’s dark because there’s light, there’s good because there’s evil, there’s warmth because there’s coldness. Without one of the ends, we wouldn’t have anything to compare the other end to. In life, you sometimes have to be a salesperson to yourself: accentuate the good and de-emphasize on the bad, don’t amplify and dwell on your flaws/mistakes. Try to see the good in yourself and in others. If all you have is a grim outlook on life and in others, then there isn’t much anyone else can do to help you except yourself. “Don’t get set into one form”.