Destiny is not cast in stone

There is a fundamental difference between humans and animals that put man clearly above animals. A cat remains a cat all its life with same idiosyncrasies. A lion cannot be anything other than a lion. There is no rich lion and a poor lion. So no lion is tempted or attempts to change its status because it feels short-changed by the superior economic posturing of another lion.

On the other hand, man has the innate capacity to change his status quo if for any reason he is no longer comfortable with it. A homeless man can eventually transform to a builder of substantial real estate. An alcoholic or drug addict can clean up his act and become a soar-away success. Stories abound of immigrants who arrive foreign lands with little money and the shirt on their backs but went ahead to become stupendously wealthy. Anyone who helplessly wrings his hands and complains about his inability to change his circumstance needs to have himself checked to see if he is actually human!

According to Dennis Kimbro in his book “THE WEALTH CHOICE: SUCCESS SECRETS OF BLACK MILLIONAIRES”, wealth and success have much more to do with choice, a commitment to change, discipline, hard work and the willingness to reinvent oneself through work than luck.

It is not a crime to fail in the pursuit of an assignment or project. The unpardonable sin is to remain at the point of that failure and refuse to change the story for the better.

Success is not a respecter of backgrounds or social status. A homeless pauper can transform into a billionaire and a billionaire can fall on hard times.

At the Treblinka concentration camp where Adolf Hitler exterminated thousands of Jews during the Second World War, Fred Kort was one of only nine survivors. He lost his entire immediate family and sixty relatives to the Holocaust. He arrived as a refugee in the United States without a dime in his pocket. He took up employment at the Bendix Company. As time went on, he began to make toys. That was the beginning of his toy business and his huge fortune. Fred Kort was the inventor of the bouncing rubber ball that used to be the darling of every little boy when I was growing up. He also invented the bubble machine.

William Konar was only 12 when his family was captured from their Poland home and sent off to the Auschwitz concentration camp and saw his mother and siblings for the last time in July 1942 shortly before they were murdered by the Nazis. He arrived the Unites States as a refugee orphan in 1946 and ended up in a foster home. He beat all of that and eventually became the founder of CVS Pharmacy, one of America’s biggest pharmaceutical chains.

Felix Zandman, founder of Vishay Intertechnology, a major electronics firm providing services for the aerospace and computer industries, lived in an underground hole for several years during the war until he was captured by the Nazis and enslaved in a factory where he witnessed his family members’ massacre. He immigrated to America upon being freed by the Allied Forces.

What of Nathan Shapell, who became one of the largest homebuilders in California? As a teenager in the summer of 1943, he was captured by the Nazis and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in readiness for being gassed to death. He was tattooed on his forearm with a number that he bore to the end of his life. Arriving the United States in the 1950s, he started his life from scratch. Building a few houses at a time, he went ahead to become a real estate mogul.

I have cited all these examples because, very often, we play the victim when it comes to the situations we find ourselves in, especially where our current reality conflicts with our ideal. All of the examples I gave above are people who survived the most harrowing of conditions, arrived in a nation where they had no family, no friends and no money. They were battered and bruised physically and emotionally. Yet they went ahead to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and they became hugely successful.

Apart from the experience of the holocaust, one more thing was common to all of these men and several other success stories with their pattern in the USA. They were Jews. Jews raise their children on one fundamental principle that the way a man is today has nothing to do with the way he will be tomorrow. Jews know that the only thing that is constant is change.

In many societies, class stratification and the caste system seem to have located the destinies of a certain group of people in a particular level beyond which they are not supposed to rise. People who belong to a certain class, for example the royal family, are not supposed to marry ‘peasants’.

In Great Britain, the royal family has been in the news lately because of a royal seed who decided to breach this unwritten but generally understood code. In the eastern part of Nigeria, the people regarded as “osu” are condemned to a life of servitude as second class citizens who could never marry outside their class. In some parts of India, it is the “dalit” or untouchables.

Yet all men were created in God’s image with the capacity to aspire to the highest of their ideals. An environment where some regard themselves as being born to rule and others born to be ruled cannot get the fullest benefits of its human enterprise. We were all born with the seed of greatness. We can all overcome and change the narrative of hopelessness arising from our prejudices and misconceptions about the human spirit.

One of the reasons why oppressors thrive is their ability to keep those under them perpetually programmed to believe that they are powerless against their oppressor and totally dependent on his benevolence. By constantly browbeating and demeaning the psyche of the oppressed, the oppressor can stop him from dreaming or aspiring to greatness in any shape or form because he is mentally programmed to think the way the oppressor wants him to think and act. Tyrants stifle their subjects’ access to information that can even remotely suggest liberty to them. This is why the first casualty when dictators take over government is the means of communicating with the populace. They then replace the materials coming out of such channels with propaganda tailored towards mind-programming that brainwashes the subjects to see their oppressor as their messiah!

From the Holy Bible, Jews learnt and teach their children about the dignity of labour and the flexibility of destiny. They also know and teach their children that, in the words of Rabbi Daniel Lapin, “destiny is not carved in stone”! Nowhere in the holy writ is it written that even slaves cannot change their circumstance.

Nobody was created for poverty and none was created to lord it over others because they have the advantage of means. We are as strong and as successful as we aspire to be. But when we dream, let our waking moments find us working!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!

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