Acta Non Verba

Sunday, February 16, 2020 - By: Ben R, Ellis ‘20; Phoot by Holly Burton, Mackenzie '21

The perfect paradigm of Western culture and ethics is an ostracized man nailed to a cross as he helplessly bleeds from his wrists. The man who “bares all of humanity's sins”. The man who has suffered the most. This is to say, Western culture quite literally religiously values those who can competently bear life’s suffering.

As I was writing my speech in the library, three fellow Brentonians decided to sit down about two meters from my seat. They formed a triangle, two sitting on a comfortable bench pressed against the wall, while one pulled up a chair to face the other two. Each student whipped out their phones, tilted down their heads, and focussed their attention into their device. The phones of the students centralized each person’s energy into the centroid of the triangle, to create a singularity of concentrated energy that manifested itself into an insightful dialogue into how hungry they were, the inexplicable tragedy of getting your phone taken away, how bored they felt, how much homework they had.

The thing that caused these three students to gather together in a triangle is one thing that degrades most people’s ability to enjoy life. The thing that inspired those three students to get together and complain about life’s inevitable suffering is what caused about 90% of the English students to perform Melhuish speeches about why this sucks, why it sucks for me, why it sucks for you, why it sucks for all of us. About why oppression sucks; about why political correctness to counteract that oppression sucks. About how god-awful those glass walls in the META 9 classroom are. It’s pretty damn easy to write a persuasive speech if all you need to do is persuade someone that something sucks.

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why. Because it’s extremely easy to say I hate this and then laugh about why you’re not going to do anything about it. When put against the risky, profoundly controversial opposite, I love this, the pessimistic path is far easier. To confidently say that, aside from all of life’s inevitable suffering, I am passionate about this, takes huge risk, and a lot of resolve.

I can confidently say that there are two types of people in life. The doers, and the complainers. I’ll give you a perfect example of a doer.

My father was born in apartheid South Africa. He grew up with a family that wasn’t able to support him financially throughout highschool or university. He chose, however, to be a doer. He chose to do well in high school, get a scholarship to medical school, and then make his way over to Canada where he now owns and practices in a highly successful walk-in clinic here in the Cowichan Valley. He could have gathered his friends into triangles and complained about how ridiculous their living conditions were, or how politically unstable their country was, but he chose not to.

Next time you are faced with adversity, do not passively complain about it. Instead, think “What can I do to better this situation?”

Do not let the events in your life define who you are.

Let the actions that you take do that instead.

Ben R, Ellis ‘20

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