Man proud man/Dressed in a little brief authority/ Most ignorant of what he is most assured
—(Shakespeare: Measure for Measure)
On Wednesday as I sat with a mix of fear and hope and awaited the outcome of a clinical procedure I had to undergo in 24 hours, I became more aware of how small and vulnerable we all are in the larger scheme of things, that however confident and proud we may feel about our status that we are all subject to the vicissitudes of life, continuing as if there were no tomorrow, yet our world collapsing at our feet in a moment, much like the ant which perseveres in its never ending quest, only to be stomped into oblivion in a second.
Today, thankfully, I have been spared the trauma of the bitter cup that could have been, but the interim of pain that came with the uncertainty of the possible outcome has shorn me of whatever pretensions I may I have had of my own worth and has given me a sense of being one among my fellow sufferers facing their varied Gethsemanes (metaphor of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane facing his own trauma). I feel a sense of oneness with them, the beggar on my doorstep on Sunday lunch time, the professional pedalling for a dollar to feed his family having lost his job, the families in despair as their loved ones languish far from home, the young couple trying to cope with the dissonance of their newly-discovered incompatibilities.
As if personal trauma is part of the bigger scheme of things, a necessary part of our experience as humans, indeed of our own personal growth and development, which we must all face on this journey called life. Some of us survive out of fortunate circumstances which we sometimes never can understand, some out of the force of our own characters. Others fall by the wayside not also being able to understand their bad fortune or lacking in the moral fibre to cope with their challenges. But whatever the trauma, in our own varied ways, large and small, we must learn not to curse the darkness when it seems to engulf us, but be our own light to show us the way through.
The net effect of all this is the humility to recognise our “smallness” in the bigger scheme of things, no matter how “big” we may feel we are and to hope that when we face our own Gethsemane that we have the will and moral resilience to deal with it.
And we must remember that we are not alone. Today the most important in the land is facing his own Gethsemane and he too will have to summon all his personal resources to cope. My prayers are with him as they are with all those who continue to labour up the hill of their own destiny.
The latter is my wish for the New Year for all those who face their varied trauma in this our beloved country.
Dr Errol N Benjamin