Theme of the week

Issue XLV(11.12.2011)

Patience is Strength or Weakness

When I go to pick my daughter from her school, I notice something interesting. Some of the parents, who also come to pick their wards, will park their cars at a distance from school gate and wait patiently. They make sure that they do not become a hurdle in way of other passing vehicles. When the children are off, they will quietly hold hand of their ward, sit in the car, and move. On the contrary, some rather impatient parents will park right in front of the school gate. With several such people struggling in front of the gate, they create a chaos and it ends with some of them shouting at each other with all those ornamental adjectives.

We read and watch news stories of road rage in metro cities, almost every day. In rush and passion of overtaking others, we break rules and put several lives at stake! If somebody objects, we teach him lesson with hockey sticks, rods, chains, and even a revolver!! Is this style? Is this fashion? Is this courage? Those who drive at normal speed and follow rules, are cowered??

Why? ……Why some of us believe that being impatient is strength, it is fashionable, and it is the style of successful and powerful ones! In the bargain of becoming powerful and wealthy, are we becoming more impatient and stubborn! This may not apply on everyone, but is visible often in the society. Patience and politeness is gradually becoming a rare commodity. But patience is not at all a weakness; rather it is a strength which is not so easy to acquire. Reacting instantaneously is easy but absorbing, analyzing, planning and then reacting is not all that simple. It requires patience, it requires courage, and it requires skills.

Benjamin Franklin said, “He that can have patience can have what he will”. Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures. Patience can turn failure into success; patience can keep us fit by avoiding unnecessary worries and anxiety, patience can help improving our self confidence.

Those who exercise patience are, in the long run, able to solve big problems and give a proper direction to most of the people. Thus, ultimately, such people only take a lead in a family, in an office, in a State or Nation and in the society at large. At Macro level we already know people like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Narayan Murthy and many others who worked on their dreams with patience and got success. At micro level, we can easily find people who ultimately take a lead and enjoy more respect in our family circles because of their patience.

Patience is a skill that we learn with experience as we grow. A child, when he is born is impatient. He wants everything instantly. His parents have to be really resourceful and strong to teach him waiting. They succeed partly and fail also in some cases!

But as they say, excess of everything is bad; excess of patience is not good either! To an extant patience is a sign of strength but beyond that it actually becomes weakness. Patience and impatience are only damaging when dragged to extremes. One has to maintain balance between the two. If patience becomes submissiveness and impatience becomes violence, both situations are grave. Both these emotions are important to us. Patience helps us to resolve problems and overcome difficulties; impatience drives us to defend ourselves in harmful situations. So choose your patience level according to what you need to bring about in your life.

Patience has to be differentiated from fear of disapproval or rejection, from fear of failure, from selfishness and from lack of faith and courage. Many people tolerate corruption because they themselves wait for an opportunity to be dishonest or accept to be exploited because they feel that they cannot get success without the support of so called powerful people. Many people express patience simply because they need a company – they are afraid that they would be left alone. All these fears lead to submissiveness which is not patience. Patience always goes with moral courage and faith in oneself.

Patience comes with wisdom. Patience comes with knowledge about the laws which govern human life. Those who take their life as a learning experience; those who love to observe and try to understand the reason behind everything automatically develop patience. As rightly said by a genius, “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Understanding the laws of Nature and making them the principles of one’s own life leads to real wisdom.

Patience also needs proper time management – not only in terms of punctuality but also in a broader respect. What you need at the age of 30 needs to be planned at the age of 15 or even earlier. What you need at the age of 50 needs to be planned at the age of 25 or 30. The more well planned and organized life a person leads, the more patience he or she is able to exercise.

Remember, there is no shortcut through the jungle of life. We have to live it day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, and second after second. And not just live; we have to utilize each second to its fullest!!