08 October, 2011


In life we will encounter various failures and defeats. Some of us are able to easily overcome failures and defeats whilst others remain trapped in self-pity and become pessimistic. Many of us are searching for solutions and remedies. This search could entail reading self-help books, becoming more religious or spiritual and watching more positive television shows or movies. It could also mean seeking advice from friends, relatives, psychologists or counselors. They can help but you must develop a unique and personal formula to overcome obstacles and challenges in your life. International Men’s Day has six (6) Objectives which have helped persons in living more fulfilling lives, achieving personal growth and overcoming the daunting failures and defeats.

There is the inspirational story of Vicktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a psychiatrist and during World War Two, he was a prisoner in Gestapo concentration camp during the oppressive era of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. He was tortured, starved, and lost his father, mother, brother and wife in the dreaded gas chambers. Only his sister lived. The inhumane, bestial conditions and torture caused many persons to go mad—but Victor Frankl survived it all.

I want to recount some of the facts about his experiences in a concentration camp from his book:

"We were unable to clean our teeth, and suffered a severe vitamin deficiency . . . we had to wear the same shirts for half a year…until they lost all appearance of being shirts. For days we were unable to wash, even partially because of frozen water pipes…most of the prisoners were given a uniform of rags…between the huts in the camp lay pure filth. Nine men slept on boards about 6½ by 8 feet . . . our daily ration was a very watery soup and the usual small bread. . . We looked like skeletons disguised with skin and rags.”

Despite these horrible conditions Frankl lived to tell the story!

How did Frankl do it? What was his amazing secret of resilience? He shares it in his book- Man’s Search for Meaning- his mind stayed free — no matter how terrible the things were around him, no matter what was done to his physical body his mind and attitude were never imprisoned. The light of hope and optimism he had in his soul never went out. He chose to live in hope rather than die in despair. No one could imprison his mind and his thoughts. He was free! His light shone bright.

How can you ensure that your light does not go out ? There are numerous ways. Firstly, take advantage of all the opportunities offered, develop your talents, spend this time learning new skills, and other activities. Learn to read and write if this was lacking, begin a hobby, learn to relax or learn a trade and be self-employed.

If you are a prisoner then you must leave the institution a better person. Become active in the religious services offered here. Remember Malcolm X during the 1960s (in the USA) was converted to Islam whilst in prison. Let each moment and each day be a new beginning — meditate and do soul-searching. We want International Men’s Day to be that agent of positive change in your life. And, we want your positive energies to influence others to make positive changes in their lives.

There are many reasons why you are faced with failures an defeats. Maybe negative forces led you to a life of crime. Sometimes you might feel you are victims of society. Persons in poverty and prison are not bad people- you probably did not have the right guidance or family life. Or possibly, your circumstances were unchangeable or false friends led you astray. You made mistakes, we all do, but – you must not give up! You can change — you need courage to struggle, patience to prepare yourself — it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Don’t wallow in self-pity, anger, hate and feelings of revenge.

You can be rehabilitated and become stronger and exert more control in your life. You can defeat addictions and become like lights in a lighthouse warning and guiding others so they would not be wrecked on the rocky road and storms of life. Keep in contact with positive-minded persons and volunteer groups that improve and assist others. International Men’s Day encourages us to seize every opportunity to rekindle your inner light, renew your faith if it was lost and conquer all vices.

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