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hardship

Through hardship, to the stars

The March 2011 Tōhoku earthquake was the most powerful known earthquake ever to have hit  Japan and one of the five most powerful in the world since 1900. The earthquake triggered a tsunami whose waves reached heights of 133-feet and travelled 10 kilometres inland. The tsunami then caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Losses were estimated at $200 billion.

One might imagine that any country which has been dealt with such a shattering blow would never be able to return to its former glory. But this is far from the truth, for only one year since, Japan is not only far along on the road to recovery, but is still the world’s third-largest economy, and the fourth fastest-growing.

Japan still figures most prominently of all on the world manufacturing and industrial scene. It is a hive of commercial activity, which is even more remarkable considering that industry in Japan began from scratch long after other developed nations, and after the destruction left behind by World War II and that Japan has no natural resources to speak of.

In life, the most important thing is the will to act. Had the Japanese succumbed to a sense of loss and frustration, and frittered their energy away, their country would have not have risen from the ashes as it has in the past, and will in the future. They have conquered their setbacks and set about reconstructing their nation. Earthquakes have brought the Japanese people death and destruction, but the Japanese have always resolutely set about rebuilding their lives afterward.

In the face of adversity, our hidden capacities come to the fore and it becomes possible for us to reach heights we have never dreamed of.


In such situations of hardship, if we have the will, all our hidden potential is brought to the fore. We think better, plan better and make greater efforts to bring those plans to fruition. Anyone who lacks the will is like an idling motor, burning fuel and going nowhere.

Complacency and a sense of luxury can be even greater subverting factors that affect progress, than despair and devastation. By no means does this imply that adversity is itself beneficial. It is not. But it can be the spark that ignites the fuel of our souls and drives us onwards to greater things. It can be the source of our initiative and the force which drives us forward. In the face of adversity, our hidden capacities come to the fore and it becomes possible for us to reach heights we have never dreamed of. But for all this, there has to be the will to do so. There has to be the will to stop wallowing in self-pity and to take action.

In situations of hardship, all our hidden potential is brought to the fore. We should remember: It is not ease, but effort; not facility, but difficulty, which makes a man. Per ardua ad astra. ‘Through hardship, to the stars.’

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