- In Asia, whenever these giants are taken from the forest, they are usually held in captivity by a strong chain. After repeated attempts to break loose, the captive elephants eventually conclude that resistance is futile, and they soon settle into the routine of bondage. However, what the elephants do not know is that sometime during their bondage; their captors substituted the chain with a chord that could be broken with reasonable effort.
Amidst the hassle of our daily obligations, it is necessary for us to take time to reflect. This is time well spent; for often, when we are stressed, pessimism may set in and we become doubtful whether the challenges that we face are surmountable. We may even embrace the status quo making it a fixture within us. This phenomenon is what is used in the domestication of wild elephants.
In Asia, whenever these giants are taken from the forest, they are usually held in captivity by a strong chain. After repeated attempts to break loose, the captive elephants eventually conclude that resistance is futile, and they soon settle into the routine of bondage. However, what the elephants do not know is that sometime during their bondage; their captors substituted the chain with a chord that could be broken with reasonable effort.
This conformity to seemingly insurmountable obstacles is what psychologists call “Learned Helplessness.” A person so afflicted, is prone to accept his state. Habitually, he or she is constantly defeated and relinquishes hope.
Arguably, human existence is a study in hope. Millions have embraced this redemptive philosophy based upon a fervent desire for salvation. Many seek this salvation in religion, as aspirants strive for something better than what they possess; something eternal, something that transcends all that they can see or do for themselves. This is significant, for those so persuaded often rise above spiritual self-reliance to trust in a higher power, one through which they might confirm their hope.
However, in spite of their fervent effort, nature often frustrates the process, defeating the aspirants through the flaw within their longevity; for humans are mortal. This fact of life forces us to think generational, and this is why hope needs to be viral. It needs to be transmitted to a broad cross-section of the population so that it can transcend the death of the one who initially ignites it. Consequently, most visionaries create disciples: the chosen ones who carry on the teachings of the dreamer after he or she has passed on. All great individuals have a vision that transcends them. This ability to see beyond one’s life is that which makes hope purposeful. And in pursuing this path we find the way in nature.
How long has it been since you sat silently and observed nature? Doing so on a day when there is a breeze gently blowing across the lake; or watching the ferocity of a storm sweeping across the Serengeti, evokes the same admiration for an influence that is beyond our control. When we observe nature, our lives become brighter and more clearly defined.
We are pulled subtly into contemplation, and are forced to slow down to appreciate simplicity. After which, we are soberly awakened to our potential, as we begin to feel and dream about possibilities. This awakening of potentiality creates a specific mood within which the mind becomes more inclined to embrace hope, for nature reminds the observer of his or her divine origin; an understanding that will result in humility of the kind that has gratitude at its core, and a natural willingness to bring others into the sphere of such an understanding. It is only after we have entered into this contemplative state, achieved by thoughtful observation and restfulness that we come to appreciate the sublime dignity of being human, individuals created with a full and rich ability for growth and discovery. This is the process through which hope evolves into the new birth.
Hope influences us to pursue meaning for our existence, though this pursuit is often misunderstood, for we sometimes imagine that this meaning is cloaked in a mysterious plan that is hidden somewhere in the future.
But this is not so. Our purpose is simply to pursue goodness, and to use our means and talents for the betterment of humanity. In spite of this, many go on a lifelong search to discover the meaning for their lives. They try this thing or the other, to see which might be more purposeful for them. But the great profundity of our existence is that our purpose lies simply in evolving into wise, patient, and fully realized human beings.
The writer is the CEO of Grand Africa Literary Initiative Ltd