It has been another difficult week in which I have been guilty of letting the negatives get on top of me. Even recognising that this was happening did not seem to help! How come an optimistic person like me could become a pessimist? By focusing on the wrong stuff and letting the negative self talk predominate. I found myself drifting in a sea of emotion and was brought to my senses when I read the following:
The opposite of love is not hatred,
The opposite of hope is not despair,
The opposite of mental health is not madness,
The opposite of remembering is not forgetting,
In every case the opposite is nothing but indifference.
These words were written by Elie Wiesel, a Jew who survived the horrors of the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, who recognised that indifference is so tempting, so seductive yet in the long term it is destructive. That quote reminded me of another from the same era:
“In Germany they came first for the communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up.” (Pastor Martin Niemoller, quoted in Be Our Freedom Lord, p254)
We live in a world where there is injustice, pain and suffering, there will be times when negative feelings weigh you down, but resist the urge to just opt out and be indifferent. These people survived and flourished even in extreme circumstances, so can you! This week I also read and was encouraged by the story of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop and his survival, by “rejecting helplessness, indifference and fear… he was a light and a beacon of hope in those dark days of 1943 and 44…” (quote from Ian McLean) but maybe that is a story for another time. Don’t give up to indifference and negativity, you have what it takes to make a positive difference!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley