The biblical saying of “turning the other cheek” is often misunderstood as being passive and weak toward those who insult, belittle and deride us. I have a different take on this: Your enemy can be your best friend if he galvanises you into action, shakes you out of your comfort zone and stimulates your creativity.
In the ancient Chinese philosophy of the Five Elements and the yin and yang, life is a never-ending cycle of ebb-and-flow, night and day, birth and death, growth and decay, happiness and sorrow.
In the dynamic interaction with the opposite, the opponent, the different world view, we form our own identity and get clarity of who we are and what we really want to stand up for.
In the bigger political scenario the bad leader is inevitably compared to the standards set by the predecessor and the other way around. There is hardly a politician out there at the moment who seems to polarise as much as Donald Trump. In contrast to most people however I don’t see Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord as the end of efforts to mitigate climate change. It will have the opposite effect. The decision has already galvanised politicians, civic action groups, city mayors, environmentalists, scientists, artists and millions of people all over the world into greater efforts to really do something about cleaning our planet.
In my home country South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was a shining example of a leader who reconciled, forgave, mediated and worked tirelessly the last years of his life for charity. The current leaders could not be more corrupt and far removed from the ethics and ideals Mandela stood for. It is however galvanising people into mass action who want no more of the ineptitude, lack of ethics and corruption. The bad leaders now are providing the fertile ground for the good leaders of tomorrow.
On the relationship level we so often find that the member of the family, associate or friend who tried to tell you that you could never do it, actually was the jet fuel that set you on fire to follow your dream.
We can go on and on through history. The terrible devastation of World War II gave birth to the community of nations in the European Union in the longest era of peace we have seen in Europe ever. So it is my hope that the current tide of xenophobia, religious intolerance and fundamentalism will galvanise the majority into the opposite direction.
Reino Gevers – Mentor for Leaders and Achievers – Your Health Matters
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