So, I read this today on Paulo Coelho's blog. And I really liked it. So I thought I'd share...
On the importance of “No”
Published on February 1, 2010
“Hitler may have lost the war on the battlefield, but he ended up winning something,” says M. Halter. “Because in the 20th century, men created the concentration camp, resuscitated torture, and taught their fellow men that it is possible to close one’s eyes to the misfortunes of others.”
The most important words in any language are small words. “Yes,” for example. Love. God. These are words that are easy to utter, and they fill in empty spaces in our world.
However, there is one word – also a small one – that we find difficult to say:
And we see ourselves as generous, understanding, and polite. Because “no” is considered to be cursed, egoistic, not at all spiritual.
We have to be careful here. There are moments when we say “yes” to others and in fact are saying “no” to ourselves.
All the great men and women in the world have been people who, rather than say “yes”, said a very big NO to everything that did not fit their ideal of solidarity and growth.
We may often be called intolerant, but it is important to open up and fight against everything and all circumstances if we see injustice, manipulation or cruelty. No-one can admit that, after all is said and done, Hitler set a pattern that can be repeated because people are incapable of protesting. And to reinforce this fight, let us not forget the words of John Bunyan:
“For all that I have suffered, I do not regret the problems that I have faced – because they are what brought me to where I wanted to arrive. Now that I am close to death, all that I have is this sword, and I hand it over to whoever wants to follow their pilgrimage.
“I carry with me all the marks and scars of the combats – they are the witnesses of what I have lived through, and the rewards for what I have conquered. It is these cherished marks and scars that will open for me the gates of Heaven.
“There was a time when I was always hearing stories of bravery. There was a time when I lived only because I needed to live. But now I live because I am a warrior, and because one day I want to be in the company of Him in whose name I have fought so hard.”
So scars are necessary when we fight against Absolute Evil, or when we have to say “no” to all those who, sometimes with the best of intentions, try to impede our journey towards dreams.
It's interesting, to me, as someone who has difficulties saying "no," to think about this. Particularly the idea that every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else, and what it means what that something else is you.
In other news, Mags and I are back home. She got to spend the day with May's (whom I think I called June the other day. Damn pseudonyms! June is engaged, though, BTW) wife (we're going to call her Juliet. Like July, but girlier. She needs a pseudonym, because I hope to be spending more time with them as life moves forward). Apparently they had fun. Work was fine, although not especially "fun".