BY KEISHA JOHNSON
Growing up in the Caribbean, we’d often hear people say, “what nuh dead, nuh dash wey”. Translated, this means: whatever is not dead, don’t throw it away.
It’s a sage’s caution to withhold judgement even though the available evidence appears compelling. It’s an encouragement to have hope in the worse of circumstances. The kind of hope of all hope for example, that many parents cleave to when their child goes off course and abandons everything they’ve taught and modelled to them.
This hope is a survival instinct. It is a lifeline that keeps us buoyant when logic won’t. At its core is an appeal to activate the innate optimism of the human spirit and be encouraged that all is not lost for a seemingly dead situation or ‘impossible’ prospect. It is predicated on the assumption that as long as there is life, there is hope.
Interestingly, each of us, at some point are compelled to hold this kind of hope for ourselves and for others.
This year more than ever, I’ve seen the beauty and benefits of such optimism. Sitting in the seat of interviewer on Living the Dream in Canada, I hear countless personal stories from celebrated figures in our community of the enormous challenges they’ve tackled en route to realizing their dreams and goals.
Similar to finding their voice, it seems enduring challenges and extracting the good from them were imperative to progressing towards their goals.
Founder of Rise Above for Excellence, JR Thomas for example, recounts being a young offender and getting off course because of misguided decisions and a lack of access to good mentors during his youth. Having suffered the consequences of his mistakes, he felt compelled to create a platform that fills this gap for today’s youth in his Toronto neighbourhood.
In December, Rise Above for Excellence celebrates its second year of creating an inspiring place for young people to be groomed in the principles that create a sustainable foundation for wealth creation and character development.
Thomas’ business partner, Marie Vernon’s early life also showed little prospect for any future, much less a bright one. The absence of her parents left her living a game of hot potato’s as she bounced from one family member to another. Never quite knowing the stability of a home or feeling that sense of belonging, Vernon committed her adult life to being a light for others and to helping them to discover their purpose. She supports orphans and shows them the thoughtfulness she yearned for as a child.
Both Marie and JR experienced challenges that could have hijacked their purpose and arrested their potential. But instead of resigning defeat or succumbing to a sense of victimization, they were able to extract blessings from the burden of their mistakes and model hope and inspiration to others.
We don’t have to look far to find countless other persons within our communities, sometimes within our families and homes, whose decision to rise above their mistakes and misgivings demonstrate to us that challenges, disappointments and struggles often have a greater purpose than seem apparent when they are in effect.
From the outside looking in, if you lack vision, you’ll let the challenge or failure overshadow their potential. But remember, “what nuh dead, nuh dash way.”
Michael Jordan once said, “I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I have missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Maintaining hope in challenging circumstances is not easy. It’s a mammoth test of faith and maturity. And at the same time, it’s a most effective tool in building character, self-discipline and the wherewithal to realise our goals and succeed. Hope deferred makes the heart weak, but to never give up hope is the secret of glory!