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When we are strong, we are always much greater than the things that happen to us. Thomas Merton

Whether I think more about strength than most folks or not, I can’t determine. My guess is that the various things that happened in my life resulted in the inability to say, “I can’t” or “There’s no way I can do this.”

Mr. Merton affirms that we are in complete control of those tasks that we can accomplish, regardless of the way that the world evolves around us. This occurs to me whenever I see a young person taking his or her own life. By no means do I intend to simplify this occurrence or suggest that suicides are committed without significant analysis. But I do believe that most of us have the strength or wisdom to overcome virtually everything.

Between all of the political trash on the news, we occasionally see the inspirational stories of those who have overcome unthinkable adversity. Yesterday I observed a man who was clearly handicapped in some way but he was slowly walking, one step at a time, in a run dedicated to a worthwhile cause. Another walker was completing 5k with one good leg and one artificial one.

For the sake of not oversimplifying defeating adversity, I do believe that the human spirit and will enable us to find the strength to survive. From where is this strength derived? My guess is that it depends entirely on the individual experience. Some of us were told from childhood that we were strong enough to manage any circumstances. Others of us derived survival techniques from having to use them numerous times. And some have probably become strong through acts of kindness or generosity toward others. In this case, we receive twice the growth or goodness that we deliver.

In any case, I am always saddened at those who don’t capitalize on their abilities and succumb to the demands of this world. My educating always includes commending students on their abilities to prevail, socially or intellectually. Perhaps we can identify and reinforce strength in others who don’t recognize its presence and power. Shalom.

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