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Unity Through Adversity

I was stationed overseas in Okinawa Japan from 1995-1998. While I was there, a few fellow American servicemen committed unthinkable acts against a Japanese girl. It quickly became an international incident and subsequently cast all Americans in a very bad light. You could feel the heightened tension when walking the city streets and so much so, that many areas of the city became dangerous and were deemed off limits to the Americans. If there was any silver lining at all to this tragedy, it was that the adversity brought us together as Americans. This was a precursor to the unity that we would all come to know after the tragedies of 9/ll and that I also experienced in Houston Texas after Hurricane Harvey a couple of years ago.

I now realize that this strange phenomenon of bonding with others as a result of bad things happening is exactly what the Marine Corps does in boot camp and the training of its officers in Officer's Candidate School. The Marine Corps knows that when times are toughest and when everyone shares equally in the trials before the group, the individuals will bond more closely together in an effort to get through the tough times. Unity comes through "shared adversity."

Of course this concept is difficult to comprehend for people who believe that life should be easy, comfortable and satisfying as the ultimate objective. They can not imagine how Coronavirus could possibly be good if it causes some to be sick and others to perish. They can't imagine how a hurricane could be beneficial if people lose their possessions and some their lives and they simply can't imagine how a terrible circumstance like the murder of a child could have any redeeming value to those left behind. Well that's because they don't understand that through all of the bad times and situations that life has to offer, there is always the benefit of unity that comes from hard times.

See the reality is that hard times were never meant to be handled by one person alone. In those times of testing and trial, relationships come in to play and we lean on each other and into each other as the pain or the situation grows more grim. This is the principle in boot camp and it's the principle for training a football team. It's the principle in the hospital room as a patient fights for his/her life and it's the principle in the boardroom when a company faces the prospect of bankruptcy and going out of business.

Shared adversity works with pandemics as well and if we determine to desire to see how it works, we will surely see that in every circumstance there is an opportunity for unity and we then become thankful for the adversity.


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