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A few years ago, Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl of Pakistan, was shot by the Taliban because she protested against the policy of not allowing women to obtain an education as men. She was seriously wounded but she survived. After her recovery, she was asked whether she was going to continue her mission. She promptly replied, "They can shoot my body, but they cannot kill my dreams!"

Throughout the world, evil raises its ugly head in various forms. There is wanton brutality and flagrant injustice. This is somewhat easily discerned and it deserves condemnation. But there are many forms of evil in any society which are not so easily identified. They are part of the system, as we know it, and people think that because everyone does it and there is no legal sanction against it, it is acceptable.

This has posed tremendous problems in history. Even the Church has been very much part of it. She has been very slow to underline evil practices in society. Fear has often been the underlying motive for silence.

The great Russian author, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in his book 'The Gulag Archipelago', states:

In keeping silent about evil, in burying

it so deep within us that no sign of it

appears on the surface, we are

implanting it and it will rise up a

thousand fold in the future.

We, human beings, have tremendous interior resources at our disposal. Most people do not know that. When the worst happens they very easily give up. What concerns people most is not the challenge of the present. What worries them most is the future. If only they were assured that what they endure would last only a day or two they would stand firm. But they do not know of the interior strength with which they are endowed, so they tend to throw in the towel. People in times of stress may say, "I don't think I will make it." You notice that they do not say "I don't think I can make it." It is the future that challenges them. The task of counselling should be to assure people that they have the strength to cope and help them to conjure the power to endure which is within them.

Few operate at anywhere near their maximum level. Psychologists tell us that people use only a small fraction of their interior resources. Growth in maturity consists in the realization that human beings have been gifted by God with all the power that they need survival. There will, of course, be challenges. But these merely serve to urge people to bring out the strength, the courage, the power, which is in them.

The human person is a world by itself. It is a sort of self-contained machine, fitted with all the equipment that is needed for the journey. People need to know that. If only they were assured of this, all the worries and fears that they experience would disappear. However, to come to this conviction, people need much patience, humility, and faith in themselves. Indeed, when the going gets tough, they never give up; they just get tougher!

To effect national reconstruction, we need personal and social reconstruction. This can be effected only by changing mental attitudes. People need inspiration. Few there are to impart this inspiration. Somehow, there is the fear of truth. A radical change must take place in this country. It must begin with an awareness of who we are and of our tremendous potential. Additionally, we must be willing to suffer for the truth.

During World War II, the Germans had a concentration camp in Poland, in which a large number of people were incarcerated. One of these was a Polish priest, Maximilian Kolbe, who was arrested because of his literary publications. The practice was that whenever prisoners escaped, twice the number were put into a separate room where they were starved to death. Among those who were placed in that room was Fr. Maximilian Kolbe. Of the twenty prisoners condemned to death by starvation, only two were alive after thirteen days. They were Fr. Maximilian Kolbe and another man. They needed the room urgently, so they decided to give them a poisonous injection. History records that Fr. Maximilian Kolbe died with a smile. They could kill his body, but they could not break his spirit!


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