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Durlynn Anema: Do people create their own destinies?

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Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2017 4:30 pm

Time on Earth can be short or long, intense or dull, busy or routine. Everyone experiences highs and lows, joys and sorrows, exhilaration and pain. Some situations provide joy; others bring sorrow. And while some people collapse under the weight of a traumatic situation, others rise to the occasion.

Many people not only rise to the occasion but go beyond through strength, perseverance, passion, faith, and the will to conquer what is given them. Those people still struggle, feel despair, often want to give up — yet know it is not in their character. They know they must move on and conquer — not only for themselves but for those around them.

Each person also has an unique method of moving on with life. Some have a deep faith in God; others learn about themselves through the help of a therapist; still others gain understanding through personal strength. There is no “one size fits all” solution because each one takes its own twist and turn. That’s what makes each person’s story so interesting.

•••

Ever think that an “ordinary person” lived 2,100 years ago? Or at least a typical person for the time because his family was the average rural Jewish one. He didn’t go among the prominent and famous but among the ordinary people — loving and caring about and for them. Yes, I’m talking about Jesus.

Wasn’t that why the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t like him? He was humble — preferring to dine with anyone who invited him to dinner, to talk on the mountaintop (I’ve been to that powerful mountaintop), to stop and visit with a woman at a well. He especially loved the children and wanted no harm to them.

Gospel of John Chapter 1:10: “He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.”

Those people who did recognize him realized they had to tell others about him — and did. Christians find themselves doing this in many ways — having a positive influence on the community in which they live, and loving and caring for others.

St. Francis of Assisi tried to follow Jesus’ example. The film Brother Sun, Sister Moon follows his life and also that of Clare. Cat Stephens, who provided the film’s music, was so impressed by St. Francis he gained spirituality and joined a religious group. However, the group was Muslim not Christian. Was that because of the way Stephens saw Christianity portrayed in the film? Wonder where he is now?

Why did Pope Francis, who was from Argentina, become Pope? Was it because the Roman Catholic church saw Evangelical Christians infiltrating Latin America? When I was in Brazil and Guatemala I saw Evangelical missionaries doing work among people. They came in with medical help, agricultural instruction or simple small business teaching for the people in those countries — and then introduced Jesus. In Guatemala, their help and love of people resulted in over fifty percent of that population becoming Evangelical Christians.

•••

What about our politicians and their understanding of people? Do they forget about the people who elected them? Do you get the feeling politicians have a contempt for people? Perhaps they don’t start that way — but later, unfortunately, succumb to the job surroundings. My reading indicates this attitude started in the ’60s when power and money took over.

Can I forget 1948 when I was still a “kid?” My parents were strong Republicans and confident a man named Thomas Dewey would finally get those Democrats out. However, there was another man named Harry S. Truman who was more a man of the people — and those people elected him because he appealed to them. What about Eisenhower, who went among his troops as a general and said if D-Day failed it would be upon him? Did his attitude play a part in getting “Ike” elected later? Do we have that strength of character in our leaders today?

Maybe it isn’t all the politicians’ fault. Do we get complacent when things are going our way, never expecting what may occur in the future? Maybe we have to do some of the work in our own lives — demonstrating our values and beliefs. It is truly amazing what an “ordinary person” can do. We can make a difference by loving, caring and being positive.

People surprise us each day in a very good way which is why I’m interviewing everyone I can meet. Their stories are deep, personal, sad, profound, joyous. They are all of you — ordinary in one sense and profoundly unique in another.

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