There may be days when nothing seems to be fine

Hold yourself up strong and give things a little time

The future is not for us to see

And it’s true whatever will be will be

Fear of death is worse than the death itself

Arise from the dust, keep reminding yourself

Gunjan Kapoor

In ancient Greek folklore, a phoenix is a mythical bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. The history is full of examples – be it the British rule in India, World War II or Hiroshima in Japan, to exemplify that the human spirit has always overcome all the perils to arise from the dust.

The ‘Thousand-Year Reich’ and the downfall of Hitler

Take the case of Adolf Hitler, who was obsessed with his race and the idea of ethnic ‘purity’. Hitler saw a natural order that placed the so-called ‘Aryan race’ at the top. With this belief, his Nazi party executed Jews in concentration-camps. It is said that more than 6 million Jews were killed in German-occupied Europe by the end of World War II.

In the end, Hitler’s planned ‘Thousand-Year Reich’ (Reich is German for Empire) lasted just over 12 years as he allegedly committed suicide in a bunker. After the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, Germany was divided between the two global blocs in the West and the East, a period commonly known as the division of Germany which ended with the bringing down of the Berlin wall and the unification of West and East Germany.

From this oppression and dark past to today, a lot has changed in Germany. Low levels of discrimination, high levels of innovation, excellent human and capital infrastructure, excellent work opportunities and excellent work/life balance with a strong woman leader (Chancellor) Angela Merkel at top, Germany has become a great place to live in.

 ‘Little Boy’ of Hiroshima

‘Little Boy’ was the codename for the type of atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 during World War II by the US bomber Enola Gay. It was the first atomic bomb ever used in military combat. The Allied forces dropped a second atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Almost 70 percent of the buildings in Hiroshima were demolished in the blast. Physically, it took a decade to clear the rubble and to begin significant rebuilding of the new cities. Ultimately, it took just 15–20 years for viable cities to rise again in both places.

Interestingly, today Hiroshima is a city that promotes world peace. In 2017, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the Nobel Peace Prize. Setsuko Thurlow, a Japanese Canadian nuclear disarmament campaigner and a hibakusha (Japanese word for a person affected by a bomb) gave a moving acceptance speech for the audience at Nobel Prize ceremony at Oslo.

Today, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum preserves artefacts and survival stories in hopes of “No More Hiroshimas”. In Hiroshima, every year on August 6, church bells ring at 8:15 am, at the exact moment the bomb was dropped. That begins a day of remembrance ceremonies that culminates in the hauntingly beautiful Toro Nagashi festival, where hundreds of lanterns are floated down the Motoyasu River, in front of the famous Atomic Bomb Dome (a world heritage site inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park).

Taming of the ‘The Empire on which the Sun never sets’ in India

Almost everyone in India knows this by heart — the British ruled India for 200 years. We can, more precisely, say that the British took nearly 100 years to conquer India and then ruled India for 100 years.

The upshot of the empire, as Dr. Shashi Tharoor puts it, was that “What had once been one of the richest and most industrialised economies of the world, which together with China accounted for almost 75 percent of world industrial output in 1750, had been reduced by the depredations of imperial rule to one of the poorest, most backward, illiterate and diseased societies on Earth by the time of independence in 1947.”

The British systematically purged India’s riches, destroyed its institutions and created divisions among its peoples. But the country emerged out of this and in just 70 years of independence started becoming a force to reckon with globally again. If you really think about it, there was a silver lining of this British rule – there would not have been a political union called India! In the post-independence era, India has emerged as the largest democracy in the world with its own constitution, a great governance system and has made huge strides and progress in multiple fields with significant impact to local and global economies.

The virus that made the entire world disconnect with each other, yet together in pain

While the pandemic is spreading globally like wild-fire, looking from the recent examples, a few countries have started to get a glimpse of life on the brighter side in hopefully a post-coronavirus (Covid-19) scenario.

Worldwide hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the virus, but the daily number of new infections has dropped in some of the most impacted countries like Italy, Spain, and China (where it first started). We do see a silver lining, which I sincerely hope will last for all, giving other countries a hope of what might it look like once the worst of the epidemic is over.

Physical distancing is the only way to combat coronavirus. As India also faces this global pandemic and is in a lock-down, our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji has asked all Indians to observe resolve and resilience during this crisis. I sincerely hope that the entire humankind comes out of this crisis soon, as a more empathetic, caring, connected and respectful being.

There is a beautiful Sanskrit shloka which I wish to share below:

उध्रेदत्मनात्मानं नात्मनवसदयेत आत्मैव हयत्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मनः

(Udhredatmanatmanam natmanavasadayet atmaiv hayatmano bandhurthmaiv ripuratmanah)

Which means “Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.”

This powerful shloka, and the important message it conveys, can be applied to any situation.

The power of mind is one of the strongest and most useful powers we possess. This power consists of our thoughts. While nobody chooses negative circumstances, our willpower and how we respond to them is certainly in our hands. We can choose to be destructive or constructive, elevate or descend, rise or fall, create or destroy, be a source of light or spread darkness. The power of the human mind is limitless – it is up to us to realise our full potential in a positive way.

Let us all endeavour to rise, shine and arise from the dust. Remember, this too shall pass.

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