[May 1, 2018] Many years ago as I was walking through my company’s motor pool, when I saw an army Private working on an armored personnel carrier. I stopped to ask why he was trying to fix the vehicle so early on a Sunday morning, instead of being with his buddies. He said that it was no hardship doing the right thing for his platoon.
This young man had actually grasped a concept of basic humanity that I personally had never considered. To the Private, working on his day off and on a difficult task was no big deal for him; it was just part of what he did to support his buddies.
In Greek mythology, we hear about King Sisyphus. He was doomed to push an immense boulder up a hill, only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity. This was punishment for his arrogance and deceitfulness by the gods. This story is symbolic of the laborious and futile efforts in some difficult tasks.
To this Private, however, his work was neither laborious nor futile because it was the right thing for him to do. He was happy in his work (doing the right thing); smiling at me and wishing me a good day. My encounter with him lasted not even a minute but my memory of it lasted a lifetime. I gained something from him that I would never forget.
Hardship, I learned, must be a mental attitude. That is what I got from the brief encounter. We can work hard, endure the most extreme conditions, and bear unreasonable burdens; but if we believe in our buddies and that what we are doing for the right thing, there can be no such thing as hardship.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4, the Bible1
This quote from the Bible, as many ancient philosophers have written, tells us that people who are doing the right thing for their fellow humans, will not perceive their actions as a hardship.
Those many years ago in a U.S. Army motor pool actually changed the way I looked at my life as an Officer. It took me several years but I came to the realization that the Private had more wisdom in his thinking than I did at the time. Doing the right thing is certainly no hardship.
- This is a condensed description. From the New International Version it reads in full: 1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.