Every Problem is an Opportunity?

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The other day I heard a most provocative story. It was about a large hotel that had an inspirational saying for its motto. It was placed in every room in a prominent place. EVERY PROBLEM IS AN OPPORTUNITY.

Immediately I questioned its truthfulness. I really didn’t want to believe it. It seems obvious that in life there are many problems that we humans face for which there is no solution. There are no opportunities that will eliminate the problem or modify it.

Many daily problems involve other people or a person. Their response is needed as well as ours. Any opportunity that we/I suggest or commit to, can be rejected. Conciliation is never certain. Solutions are never absolute.

Unless the word opportunity can also include a benefit for effort. I tried, perhaps several times; or a variety of efforts were expressed; or an intervention by an unbiased third person.

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Time is a great healer. The passing of time often eases the tensions caused by problems. This also involves human emotions. Biases and prejudice can perpetrate all kinds of problems. Problems are often escalated by cultivation negative emotions by groups like the Klu Klux Klan. Innate racial prejudice is often inflamed by hyperbolic language.

This is possible when ministers, under the guise of religion, stimulates racial prejudice against minority groups. Politicians can do the same. Only not using the subtle use of religion.

Their method is to instill fear in others, that deprives people of their freedoms. This became evident in recent years over the First and Second amendments of our Constitution. Fear was a motivational instrument.

Opportunities, basically, provide open doors that were closed. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, once declared that he had learned a thousand ways that did not work. Opportunities somehow seem to have the same history. Many of them become still-born.

But the answer is to keep trying. Success is often the result of continuing. Not quitting. Askany successful inventor, business person, happily married couple, sports figure, etc.

I recall a statement by Dr. Norman Cousins, one of my graduate professors, “No one knows enough to be a pessimist.” It means we should realize there is no limit for opportunities.

It seems to me that problems are often unrealistic and irrational. They or it, challenges common sense. David Baldacci, in one of his novels has a character say, “In a civilized world, there is always a part or parts that are not civilized.”

This is also true for problems. There are some that are simply unsolvable and have no answer. I equate this dilemma with a part of the Alcoholic Anonymous prayer. “O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” There are some problems that do not have an answer.

There is an urban legend that is applicable. In a mother’s womb there are two babies. One asked the other, “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well, I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, than why has no one ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second. “But certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then, where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by Her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well, I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” I heard this legend just recently, recited by a Catholic priest as part of his homily. I first heard it many years ago.

To me the application is simple. Problems are events that are historical that have happened to us. Imaginations must be used to capture opportunities. The legend reveals an example of the imagination to suggest the reality of what we believe to be an historical event.

Amen. Selah. So be it.

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