By Prof. Enrique Soriano
In this time of caution, fear and anxiety, why not just give in and give up? With the list of sacrifices getting longer, the temptation to give up is real. What do you give up when you feel like giving up already? Instead of nervously looking at the medical case bulletin highlighting the worsening infection statistics, perhaps it is time to treat each day as a new opportunity to write your story.
I recently stumbled upon an article published by Gonzaga University, an American Jesuit institution and its message resonated, “solidarity with those who live in want.” This statement is amplified in a powerful quote from Mahatma Gandhi who said that we should “live simply so that others may simply live.” The quote was founded on the thought that living to survive does not mean allowing others to live scarcely especially when our country is being ravaged and severely tested through this pandemic.
The end of the Lenten season gives us an opportunity to look into ourselves and our talents and give our neighbors what they need. It does not necessarily mean support coming from store shelves like food, masks, sanitizers, neither it talks about money. For me it is about expressing hope–a single word that can spark a thousand lives and gives real meaning to the Lenten season.
Of all the days since the pandemic began, Easter Sunday was the day that made sense. There were ordinary, mundane days of course, but there were far too many days where many people agonized and suffered due to a feeling of helplessness, unable to settle a huge debt, business closure, letting go of loyal employees, loneliness, depression and learning about the deaths of many friends and loved ones. But with faith, we continued to have hope so we hung on.
According to Sister Colleen Gibson of the Global Sisters Report, deepening our relationship with God, after all, is the aim of whatever we give up or choose to do. For that reason, perhaps the “greatest thing we could give up is the nagging feeling that we should give up.” She added that “in this year full of sacrifices, giving up would be a choice to relinquish hope and to dishonor all that we have been through. To give up would be to give in to despair and, in the process, to lose sight of where this Lenten journey ultimately points us–to the hope-filled morning of Easter.”
From the declaration of the pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) early last year, a new reality and understanding of the fragility of life, the loneliness of loss and isolation and the call to prayer in the face of uncertainty took hold. Old and forgotten “best practices” in organizations emerged. Spirituality, social responsibility and ethical dimensions reinforced the study of how self-interest, personal interests, national interests, and fairness fit together when lives and livelihoods were at stake. As the world suffered the debilitating effects of the crisis, our concept of what it meant to be human expanded. People were beginning to accept that humans are also spiritual beings – that we are the sum of body, mind, emotions and spirit. And as crass as this may sound, social responsibility and spirituality suddenly became compelling and powerful advantages of organizations.
In a number of family owned businesses I have helped at the height of the crisis, many of them performed exceedingly well especially when they attended to the emotional and social needs of their workforce. These founders and business leaders learned to tap not just their employees’ intellectual abilities but also their overall sense of collective purpose and resolve to help their respective organizations recover. It was a testament to the owner’s human spirit reciprocated by their employees tireless work that went beyond their duties.
When I talk about spirituality and human spirit, I mean two things: first, a connection to something greater than ourselves and second, a sense of meaning and purpose that guides our lives. Without a doubt, these renewed and concerted actions were inspired and sparked by hope.