Tag Archive: crisis point

Passivism and the Art of Doing Nothing

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I would like to begin by admitting that I am one of the great passive people on Earth and that I have mastered the Art of Doing Nothing. It’s the main reason why I started rethinking my life and writing down my thoughts and experiences. For those of us who simply go with the flow and are nothing but passengers in life the greatest sin that we commit is placing blame when it comes times to take responsibility.

Passivism is not the lack of action but the active choice of doing nothing which there are consequences to. In too many cases the passivist takes on the role of the victim and are quick to blame without realizing that our lack of action led to the victimization. By thinking ahead to what possibilities might occur or taking active precautions we can help safeguard ourselves from potential problems that may occur. Successful people tend to prepare for failure and try to minimize the damage that it may inflict. If we take a more active role to avoid, correct or change the circumstances in most cases we can change the outcome to something that is more positive.

A passenger in a car has little to no control in case of an accident and regardless of the circumstances is generally a victim, but looking further back the passenger always had the option to drive for themselves and accept the responsibilities of their life. It is easy to think that someone or something will always be on the lookout for us, to keep us safe whether it be family, friends or even God, but the reality is that in the end we are the ones who are ultimately responsible.

Passivism for me at least was always and attempt to take on as little responsibility as possible, but I realized that in reality it was just an excuse as I was still responsible for ceding control of my life to outside forces and then blamed outside forces when they fail.

Chances are if you feel that your life isn’t where you want it to be or you have hit rock bottom, the first natural reaction will be to place the blame on someone else. If you take the time to look back on the circumstances of where you and look for possible decisions and choices that you could have made you’ll soon realize that you are at the very least partly responsible and in most cases fully responsible for where you are in your life.

Understanding and accepting that you are ultimately responsible for yourself and must shoulder the responsibility yourself regardless of the circumstances is the first step in solving the problems that occur and can occur in your future. Taking on that responsibility forces us to be more aware of things that are happening around us and allow us to be ready for that rainy day. When you are capable of taking care of yourself then you’ll also know that you can help out others as well to build a supportive community and be an active participant in said community. Knowing that you are not just a passive observer in your life, but an active participant with the ability to enact change.

Jean Valjean Overcoming the World View: An Analysis of Les Miserables

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The main character of Les Miserables is Jean Valjean a former convict who after nearly twenty years of forced labor is released back into society. He is initially viewed only by the stigma of being a ‘dangerous’ criminal until he sheds the identity given to him by society to be the man that he truly is.

As soon as he is released he is considered a social outcast and treated cruelly by everyone he encounters because of his past. He had been arrested for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister and her family, an illegal and immoral act done for good reasons. As society labels him a criminal Valjean begins to accept the role that is given to him. Angry and bitter by the treatment he receives from the world he soon resorts to thievery to survive.

After being given shelter and food by the local Bishop and church Valjean steals the silverware and runs off only to be captured by the police and brought before the Bishop. The Bishop in an act of generosity lies to the police, informing them that the silverware was a gift and even includes a set of silver candlesticks, showing Valjean that while the rest of society views him as a thief and criminal that is not all that he is or has to be. The Bishop implores Valjean to use the silver to start a new life as an honest man.

After another act of thievery Valjean realizes that his life now had reached a crisis point, where he had the option of choosing what to do and who to be. He repents and the identity of Jean Valjean dies only to be reborn as Monsieur Madeleine.

Monsieur Madeleine uses the silver to start a new life and in a few years becomes a wealthy factory owner and Mayor of a small town. He is renowned for his generosity and kindness.

The character of Jean Valjean experiences what Christians would refer to as being ‘born again’ as he turns from a life of a sinner to one of a Christian. Regardless of religion this is something that anyone can do with their life by rejecting their current selves and remaking themselves into a different person. The idea of death and rebirth don’t need to be religious in nature and unfortunately also does not need to be a positive. Valjean’s mistreatment by society and his time in prison can also be seen as a moment of death and rebirth as he is changed from a man caring for his family to the ‘dangerous’ criminal that society viewed him as.

The cycle of death and rebirth often described in Buddhism extends beyond the idea of a physically cycle but to that of a mental, emotional and spiritual cycle that occurs to everyone. The simple concept that people change over time is the realization that the old is gone and the new remains. In some cases like the transformation of Valjean into a criminal it is mainly an occurrence due to outside factors, we simply change into what society sees in us. Whether that society consists of family, friends or the entire world many of us shape ourselves to fill or satisfy a certain viewpoint without even realizing it.

The second transformation of Valjean into Monsieur Madeleine is one of conscious choice. A suicide that kills off the old to make way for the new. These tend to happen when someone reachers a crisis point in their life or in other words hits rock bottom. You see such transformations in ‘Born Again’ Christians or other who find faith in other religious avenues. Again, this change does not need to be a positive one as some when they hit rock bottom can opt to change in the opposite direction.

Valjean before becoming Monsieur Madeleine had the opportunity to make that personal choice to be a criminal or to be a better man.

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