“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” I strongly disagree. Nearly all men can stand adversity and power is not a test of a man’s character. A middle-aged man working as a janitor in a bank was approached and asked to make some alterations in a document and afterwards, append his signature. All the men needed was just some alterations in the financial statement with the signatory from someone in the local bank, which would then be sent to the international headquarters. He was promised he would be elevated to the post of the West African manager if he yielded to their request. You would imagine he couldn’t resist such a tempting offer. Having graduated from the University in Business Administration with a final CGPA of 4.744 and searching for employment for sixteen years, the space of a janitor was all the industry could offer. Confused, he went to his wife and confided in her. After the couple reached a tentative consensus, the man sorrowfully turned down the offer from these men because of ‘something’ they were at that time, waveringly holding onto. These men then met with the branch manager in charge of the same local bank and made him the offer. Happily and hastily, he did the needed modifications and gave his signature. The aftermath of the story was simple and sad, a bittersweet experience with many twists of fate.
Everybody has no choice but to encounter adversity at some point in life. These challenges come in varied forms such as financial constraints, health challenges, family crises, relationships with others, trust between colleagues, physical and emotional abuse, striving hard to ‘be what society expects’ and the despair when your much-anticipated dreams are not coming true. These problems can cause a great deal of mental and psychological damage, to the extent that when one begins to experience any, all other aspects of the person’s life comes to a standstill. It is so sad that when it seems to have gotten beyond control, a breaking point is reached. At this point, you find some people giving in; some, committing murder; some, suicide; some finding succor in the abuse of substances and some, evolving into one of the ‘evils’ society is trying to sweep out. This break point varies with different people, with a very persistent depression coming before it. Someone told me that notwithstanding, these challenges help prepare one for the storm that will be experienced at the desired top. The devastation from listening to the different criticisms of people regarding your actions is what makes it difficult for man to stand adversity.
First and foremost, what is power? Power is the right or authority handed to a person to oversee the welfare of others. The purpose of this is to maintain order, protect the interest of the followers and ensure a stable continuous sustenance. This unnecessary ceremonious occasion occurs from every common family to a national and global scale. We have notable people like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Idi Amin and Colonel Gaddafi who have wielded power in the past. And influential people like President Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Robert Mugabe and Muhammad Buhari who currently direct the affairs of people. Citing the story of the late Nelson Mandela, with the prejudiced treatment, killing, molestation and the unfair judgments meted out to the black people in his country, he saw the need to fight for their rights. The journey, as we know, was a tough one: he was assaulted, battered several times and imprisoned for twenty-seven years. With all the characteristics and importance of power, should it be then, used to test a man’s character?
Progressing deeper into this discourse, our present world suffers from vices such as greed, warfare, terrorism and corruption, partly as a result of power and inability to control it. This is because we are failing to realize that handing power to people who have not passed through trials and tribulation, or perhaps have passed through but unrepentantly failed, will only end up adding more weight to a sinking boat rather than rescuing it. We have been handing power to people with no character. Though power, until now, has unconsciously been the most reliable test of any man’s character, it can ultimately not remain so.
It is an undisputed fact that power can corrupt. It can make a once conservative man go wild. Such are the cases of people who have never wielded it before, who have never had a taste of it; so at their very first time of assuming position, they gradually begin the abuse either due to pressure or other factors. At that stage, they have not come to the full knowledge of its essence. We see the majority of such people turning to use the power the right way when given a second chance. So, I have seen this same power make a proud man become humble. If power really has negative effects on people who wield it, then it is essential to say that everybody should be on the same level – with no hierarchy. Then maybe the evils and bad practices the world has been trying to curb would be reduced to the barest minimum.
Penultimately, Man, Adversity, Character and Power are four phenomenal stages that every infant brought forth in this life is required to pass through. They redesign, reshape and rebirth every human who is willing to make an indelible impact in the world. But it is unfortunate that it seems as though almost the entire human race is incapable of completing the stages: only just a few survive. This is evident in the number of people who fulfill their purpose and those who live as just ordinary people. Character is before power. When you give power to a young man who is still striving to amaze the world (just because you want to test his character) and he fails, his failure will make him give up because he will feel he is incapable of achieving his feat after all.
Finally proving my point, my very perceptive Jury, on this hot debate between our great hero, Sir Abraham Lincoln, and I. Sir Lincoln, I direct this question to you: I researched your life history and in “An Overview of Abraham Lincoln’s Life,” paragraph five, it was stated that at just twenty-eight, while you stayed in New Salem, Illinois, you “impressed the residents with your character, wrestled the town bully and earned yourself the nickname, The Honest Abe” and the concluding part of the journal went on to state, “…He is also remembered for his character, his speeches and letters, and as a man of humble origins whose determination and perseverance led him to the nation’s highest office.” Did you succeed as the sixteenth US President because the position was just a test of your character, which you did not know you had or because the hurdles you had crossed overtime had ‘moulded’ you? Exactly! So you see, giving a man power is not a way of testing his character, rather it is a prize given to him after his character has triumphantly passed through the refiner’s fire – Adversity. Thank you!
An Overview of Abraham Lincoln’s Life. Retrieved from http://www.rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln77.html