This third post in the series features several perspectives on gathering strength and remaining strong, as is the purpose of immunity (both the tangible and intangible kinds) when resisting the enemy, whether it’s a physical, mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual–or epidemiological–enemy.
Action is one thing, but the driving motivations, beliefs, and committments that power the action is another.
The anecdotes cited in the testimonies and perspectives below highlight the importance of accruing the solid foundations of belief, purpose, and focus–some of those intangible immunities–that all human beings can build up and rely upon in times of distress and conflict.
The stories also illustrate how the people involved, with resolve and fortitude, then and now, have overcome both the fear and the fearsome in their circumstances so they could, and can, carry on with courage.
Their stories have influenced and helped others, and perhaps will help you, also, for all humans have the same potential, the same opportunity to resist evil and overcome what faces each of us when we draw from what well of wisdom and practice we have learned from others and/or have learned on our own.
Be reminded–and encouraged.
Perspectives from the Trenches
Recently, a small group of friends participated in a discussion on how the double distress of COVID-19 and the economic fallout because of it has dispirited so many. Here is a summary of what two of the participants had to say about how to remain above the temptation to lose heart.
“Let’s Trudge” Stories of Then and Now
On “then,” one wrote, a few days ago:
I’m disturbed to hear my lovely friends of years now talking as if our world has ended.
Take it easy and don’t give in to the worst possible scenarios.
Life as we have always known it will not end. We have a problem. But it will end.
As I child of the 50s I grew up in an industrial town which had been pretty well bombed flat only 10 years before. Huge areas were still knee-deep in rubble after years of blanket bombing when people who did not have shelters hid under their dining room tables as protection from falling concrete.
My parents missed the Blitz. They were in India for 10 years, during which time my dad spent 18 solid months crawling on his stomach through the Burmese Jungle, men being picked off by unseen snipers day and night, occasionally breaking out in the open to board aquatic troop carriers under hails of bullets.
My mum was under constant threat of Japan breaking through into India while Dad was away and marching off with everyone prisoner to Temco, or wherever, in the absence of the men.
Life did return to normal and those who survived made it normal…whatever normal is…a life we could recognise anyhow…
On “now,” she continues:
I am battling this week with what is almost undoubtedly Covid. My face is permanently hot my throat is sore and I’m periodically sweating buckets…4 nighties in 2 hours last night.
Dialled 111 and they sent an emergency ambulance. I’m in a high-risk group. They stayed with me for about 2 hours and made sure the fever had settled a bit and took stats. They said to keep a really low threshold and ring again if anything changed.
What are my options? Stick it out. It could go bad on me …my breathing is fine as of today and it is day 8 tomorrow…just the high up dryness and irritation and the hot hot face! Much steadier tonight than last night but …not right at all.
I’m crawling through the jungle under fire, as it were, hoping it won’t be me. Complicated theories as to what is happening beneath all of this seem to want to enslave me, depress me and sap my energy.
I am reminded of my dad’s stories of the Burma Campaign, during which the Third Reich was flourishing and people were being systematically disposed of…the very worst imagining, back then, had come to pass. But my dad’s regiment had to get through that jungle and drive the dense and scattered enemy units back to the Burma Road. Had they been captured then their fate was pretty unthinkable, but they kept crawling and slept under tents made from their waterproof capes and were bitten and stung through the night by massive insects. For 18 months solid.
There were occasional skirmishes with a half-seen enemy or you might see your friend suddenly shot dead beside you by a lone shot from an unseen sniper. George Macdonald Frazer was on the same campaign and said it could happen mid-conversation. But they kept their nerve, they kept crawling and they reached the Burma Road. Otherwise, I would not be here today, lying low, moving forward when I can, pacing it…
There are always master plans to rule and enslave us but I do believe that this is not the time to dwell with them. Keep a sensible eye out.
Tyrants are always knocking on the door and always have been. Usually, there are enough of us to stop them getting to full target. We must try to keep it that way.
So yes, we must be aware of possibilities but not get involved; at this very moment we must stay focussed.
Fear is ‘their’ top game.
I do not believe that life as we know it will end. We have to assume it will not or there is little to fight for. If we panic and obediently believe the opposite then that may become truth.
Back in the fifties, when I was getting too big to carry distances and young enough to get whiney on a long walk “Let’s trudge” my little dad would say in a conspiratorial way, bringing out our secret weapon for desperate times. Heads down, we then dug our feet in a special way into the ground and we ‘trudged’ all the way to the Burma Road or home or the bus stop.
So here I am waiting for my body to find out if it can beat the enemy. Screw theory. My job is to get the other side of this if possible by conserving my energy wherever I can.
We none of us know what is ahead. I’m trained in asepsis but somehow Covid has reached me. Mission on. Stay away from negativity is my advice to myself and all those I care about. Trudge girls and boys. We have no other option.
PS no detriment to Japan or Germany it was as it was at the time and I despair that the world does not learn.
…I’ll despair later, actually. Heaven forbid that any of us be judged by the decisions of our leaders then or now.
Another participant in the discussion, in response to the first, offered the following.
On “The Steady Consistancy of It”
Many years ago now I was helping in the Neurosurgery ward and one of the patients was a young lady who was unconscious due to head injury. Her English father sat quietly beside her all morning, loyal and always there. He just watched the day to day routine of patient care, and I felt that it soothed him because when he saw care being given to his daughter and to the other patients in that room; he was greatly soothed by the steady constancy of it.
When another family member arrived, the father looked up and said quietly and positively, “She opened her eyes this morning.” And he spoke with such steady quiet courage, which was very moving. He was a “trudger” too..
There’s physical trudging and psychological trudging, and they both take us far.
The final testimony is an interview of Terry Waite, English humanitarian and author, held hostage and tortured for five years during the war in Lebanon.
“My Soul is Not Yours to Take”
According to a Wikipedia summary, “as an envoy for the Church of England, (Waite) travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991.”
From this interview, here is his very powerful explanation (starting at about the five-minute mark) of how he withstood and overcame, mentally and spiritually, the abuse of his enemies by a reliance upon (and to the subject of this post) his strong “spiritual immunity”.
To the question, “How did you…keep…hope?” Waite replied:
“I could say to my captors, ‘You have the power to break my body. You’ve tried through torture. You have the power to bend my mind, and you’ve tried. But my soul is not yours to possess. Whatever happens, that lies in the hand of God and will not be taken by anyone else.'”