Disaster is Virtue’s opportunity. – Seneca
What does that mean?
Also translated as Calamity is Virtue’s opportunity, it is a call to us to not shrink from the unpleasant things which fall our way in life.
This quote is a call to bear what-ever happens, and to encourage others as well. Without a change in fortune, we might become dulled by having too much good fortune, and that’s not good.
When things are stirred up by a calamity or disaster, that is when heroes are found. They were always heroes inside, but until then, lacked the opportunity.
You too, can be heroic, if you choose to take the opportunity of a disaster to show your virtue. And it doesn’t need to be a tornado or earthquake, any little disaster will do.
Why is being a hero important?
That’s a loaded question. By hero, I don’t mean you have to die or even risk death, all I ask is that you do something to help. Whether it is yourself or someone else, when things go badly, do something to help. Take the opportunity to show your virtue in action.
Doing something heroic generally costs little in time, cash, or effort, yet delivers a great deal of comfort and value to the person or people who were affected. Something as simple as picking up something someone dropped can be heroic if their arms are full, or they might have trouble bending over to pick it up.
To those in need, who are facing a disaster or calamity of any proportion, your virtue is a powerful reminder that there is still some humanity left in the human race. And who knows where that spark of hope could lead them to go. Everyone does something virtuous for someone at some point in their lives.
Don’t forget the feeling you get when you do something nice for someone else. Remember, it is for them to decide if you’re just nice or if you’re a hero. That depends on what you did, and how that met their needs. But even if you weren’t rated as a hero, you still feel good about it. And that’s not all that bad.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Again, this depends on the definition of disaster or calamity. To someone with reasonable balance and flexibility, picking up a dropped doll is no big deal. But to someone who can’t reach it or has trouble balancing, you could be a hero for doing something that simple. Disaster recovered. Virtue displayed.
But this quote, to me, is just about doing the right thing. If someone needs help, is suffering, or facing hardship, you provide what help you can. That’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes circumstances don’t allow you to do all you wish, or even anything at that time, but there will be other times.
There are always other times. Lots of them. The question is how often will you do something to help, and how often will you ignore them and their needs? This isn’t a call to completely stop living your life and devote it to helping others. But somewhere between that life and a life of ignoring them, lies your path.
We all have a path to walk. And it will change over time, sometimes closer to one edge or the other. But what I would like you to consider is that the path you walk is under your control, or at least your influence. Make it a path of choice, rather than randomly bouncing around at random.
Take a moment and consider the times you have helped someone else. Is there a chance that they thought you were a hero? Did you help them when they needed it the most? Does it really matter? Or does it simply matter that ou helped? How did they react? Could you tell they appreciated your effort?
Now consider how you felt after helping them. Did it matter how big the disaster seemed to you? Or did it feel good to help someone else regardless of the situation? Does the anticipation of that good feeling ever help you decide to help someone, or is it in your nature to help others?
That good feeling is part of why I donate blood regularly. I don’t like the thought or the experience of a needle in my arm, I go anyway. While I will never meet the person who benefits from my attempt at virtue, my help in their hour of need makes me a hero, even if I have no idea when or where my help is provided.
What will you do the next time someone drops something? What will you do the next time you see someone struggling to do something? I hope you will both notice them, and consider helping them.