Often times, people get weighed down by mistakes that may have been made in the past and which perhaps are perceived to be reasons for serious set -backs. It is common to encounter such moments every now and then; but they should not just be moments for sterile lamentations, which is a sheer waste of time. Such moments can be transformed into opportunities for tremendous growth in virtues.
Some words taken from a Prayer Card goes as follows: -“—Grant that I may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love—and serve—“ It may sound easy ,but it can be very tough, due to the limitations of human nature, which can pose as obstacles on the way , if not identified and struggled against tenaciously.
In this article, we’ll see that there is always the possibility of making mistakes, resulting in bad actions; but then, when rectification is desired and the necessary means applied towards rectifying, it greatly promotes wellness.
The key words in the excerpts from the prayer card mentioned above are “I”, “LEARN”, “CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS”, “ OPPORTUNITIES”, “LOVE”, “SERVE”.
PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A lot of joy usually accompanies the birth of a new child; God is the Creator of the human person, who is born through the cooperation of the union between the parents. The purpose for which a person is born is to know, love and serve God; to be happy in this life and in the next life. The child is helped towards actualizing this goal day by day, moment by moment, through the parents, teachers, siblings, family members and the society in general.
Little by little, the powers of the Body and Spiritual soul get developed; while there can be a limit to physical growth, there is no limit to spiritual growth . Someone whose nature it is to be 6 feet tall or 5 feet tall will remain at that height after a certain age but spiritual powers like the power to love, to be humble, to be compassionate, to forgive etc are in a certain sense, unlimited because the human person is made in the image and likeness of God, Who is Unlimited and Infinite in all perfections.
PHILOSOPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
Thomas Aquinas argues that human beings act for the sake of a particular end, which they see as good and that all actions aim directly or indirectly at an ultimate end, which is the final goal or object that human beings are trying to achieve. Following Aristotle, he argues that the ultimate end of human life is happiness; he went on to say that what makes human beings happy is to know and love God.
Human beings are always motivated; they think about what they want to accomplish and settle upon a goal; this is done by the intellect in the light of the fundamental desire for the good, which is built in the will. Next, they feel an attraction or desire for that goal or end; their will inclines them towards it. Then they begin to think about how to achieve this goal or end; in other words, they engage in the activity of deliberation. Then they make a final judgement about what to do on the basis of that judgement. Choice is a function of the will in light of a judgement by the intellect, meaning that the will moves the person towards a particular action- an action that has been determined by the intellect,
In other words, the will moves the appropriate limbs of the bodies at the command of the intellect, thus executing the action.
INFLUENCE OF PASSIONS ON HUMAN ACTIONS
There is need to recall that action is ultimately, a function of the intellect and the will. There is also an influence of the passions or emotions on the action. Consequently, there can be bad actions, which can come about in light of the breakdown of one or more of those capacities; the intellect can be mistaken due to ignorance (lack of knowledge)’ it can also give in to passion under inappropriate circumstances( e.g. great anger over careless fellow road users). Bad actions can also arise from the will when one’s desire for the good is disordered, leading one to prefer a lesser good, forsaking a greater good that ought to have been preferred.
Good actions promote human flourishing while bad actions detract from human flourishing.
QUALITIES OF GOOD ACTIONS
First, it must be morally acceptable; acts like murder, stealing, adultery etc are never right regardless of circumstances or the end, because they do not promote human flourishing. Secondly, the action must be performed for an appropriate end- e. g. almsgiving is a good act, but can become a bad act if it is for the sake of vain glory. Thirdly, the act must be performed in the appropriate circumstances e. g. taking a walk is good to maintain one’s health but not when there is a raging storm outside that could be risky to life.
TO BEGIN AGAIN
If one has had occasions of having exhibited bad actions through making wrong decisions, it should serve as a spur for Learning, Re-learning and Un-learning. It should never an occasion for despondency or despair which are great inhibitors of mental health. Humility is a key virtue to be practiced with vigour in such circumstances. Humility counteracts pride and all it’s manifestations; the key weaknesses of human nature are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These can be successfully “crushed” and “defeated” through deliberate acts of humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance and brotherly love.
Definitely, it is not an easy task to learn and re-learn good habits of thoughts words and actions or un-learn bad habits of thoughts words and action, but it is possible. The popular adage “ To err is human” is very relevant in this context. With the natural powers, it is definitely not easy , which is why it is of utmost importance that there exist a relationship between God and the human person. The stronger the relationship, the greater the possibility of doing good actions and the greater the ease of rectifying mistakes and beginning again on a clean slate.
A very fundamental attitude should be that of humbly accepting one’s limitations and through that loving and filial relationship with the Creator, a secure and stable mental attitude evolves. Indeed, “He that is down needs fear no fall”.
People naturally tend towards the good; towards what promotes human flourishing and away from what detracts from it. It is very important to acquire appropriate knowledge of self, of issues and circumstances, acquire self- mastery and be in a position to act based on sound and upright decisions, which contribute tremendously to boosting mental health.
It is of crucial importance too that one knows how to rectify, begin again, learn, re-learn and un –learn when mistakes have been made; this requires exercising heroic humility, accepting the situation if a mistake has been made and willing to be on the right path, all of which led to promoting human flourishing and wellness.
Caroline Ademiluyi is a Lagos, Nigeria based Pharmacist.