The REAL test of character - Adversity or Power?

Sandhya Nagaraj
Published on: 4th Anniversary (20 Nov '15)
We run by the common belief that adversity is the real test of strength for man, which come to break us, but help us make ourselves what we are. But are adversities the true tests of character? From where I stand, it isn't adversities at all that define and capture a man's character, but prosperities and times of power.

Having a terminal illness, having setbacks that need immense efforts to conquer, having attitudes that are helping you in no way and hence which needs to be changed are adversities which once conquered might seem like real successes, but that's only just the beginning. Let's talk about what happens AFTER. Once you've gotten through what was probably the hardest journey of your life at a certain point of time (which by the way might be the first standard final exams for a kid in first grade, or a terminal illness which is equally hard irrespective of a person's age), you would probably think you've conquered the world. You feel POWERFUL after having conquered what the world at large might have succumbed to. Now, this POWER that you have earned after tremendous efforts, how good is it really for you?
The REAL test of character - Adversity or Power?
People in positions of power and people having prosperous times also make decisions day after day, and the margin of error granted to them is probably more given their previous good decisions. How many people in power really use their power well? If you're in power and you KNOW there’s nothing stopping you now, what route would you take? There can be nothing more wonderful than a humble person in power, and there can be nothing more detrimental than a person misusing or abusing power. Having power is like walking on a double edge sword, you won’t know what killed you if you go too far on either extreme.

And no, I don’t just mean positions of power with respect to work per se. I am also talking about having power over people among a group of friends, having power over a sibling, having power over the people who work for you at home. Just because you have done something non-repayable for a friend, does it warrant you to ask back anything –even when you think it is for the greater good? Just because you know that you are the truest friend anyone can have, can you use that card to get something done, even if it isn’t for yourself? Actually this is where delusions begin.

The minute you say “I’m NOT doing this for myself”, you begin to feel holier than thou. You think that you are not doing it for yourself. But of course you ARE. EVEN if it is keeping some greater good in mind, it is still an act of selfishness. It is selfishness because you want YOUR friend to be happy, you want YOUR family to be at peace, you want YOUR neighborhood to have an aura of divinity, and you want YOUR society to be on a higher consciousness. And having power over one person or ten or a society makes it easier for you to enforce what you want on them. Would you go and help a stranger who can give you back NOTHING in return?

How many times have you asked a friend to forgive another, so that YOU can have harmony in life? How many times have you subtly indicated that you don’t want your friend to be friends with someone you dislike, just because YOU had an untoward incident with the person? How many times have you made decisions for your friends and asked them to agree, simply because you think it is for a greater good? How many times have you claimed to be better than who you actually are; only to take out your anger on your family or a good friend who you know won’t hurt you back? That is using your power over them. How many times have you been possessive of a friend, even though you KNOW it is wrong to be? Take a few minutes and identify the power you have, and you’ll be amazed at the outcome. Once you identify it, take a vow to use that power better, even if it is one step at a time! To HAVE power, and to use it WISELY, is one of the noblest things you can do!
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