“Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.” ~Grandma Moses
I recently read Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng. It is the story of her imprisonment in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution, and her quest for justice when she was released. She was kept in solitary confinement for more than six years where conditions were horrible and she was treated badly.
What was astounding to me was her ability to persevere. She had no contact with the external world, no communication with family, nothing to read, and nothing to do. She had no idea when, or if she would be released.
It reminded me of Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl: the story of his years in a concentration camp, and how he used the power of his mind to survive. Both of these individuals demonstrated the incredible ability humans have to overcome adversity.
It was humbling to read both of these accounts, and, for me, they put the concept of adversity into perspective. I realized that anything in my life that I have considered to be a problem or a struggle is nothing compared to what many fellow humans have had to endure.
I realize the preciousness of freedom: freedom of speech, of movement, freedom from fear, hunger and oppression. I am blessed to have all of this, so I vow to use it well, appreciate it, savor each day, and use my life to put goodness into the world.
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