The history of the United States' Revolutionary War honors George Washington as its greatest general. He is known as the "father of the nation." His birthday was made a national holiday. His leadership style is studied and emulated. A great monument weighing 81,120 tons and rising more than 55 feet above the earth stands as a tribute to him in the great city named after him. All because of the choices he made in the hard circumstances that were thrust upon him.
Another man--equally fervent in the cause of independence as Washington--faced equally hard circumstances. His choices led him to a far different destiny: mockery instead of monument, shame instead of fame, traitor instead of triumph. His thoughts led him to feel he was betrayed by his country, which in turn led him to become the betrayer. Thought to be a greater tactical general than George Washington, Benedict Arnold's choices took him away from his friends, bringing the chastisement of superiors and rebellion to his heart.
Financially strapped and mired in thinking of deep unhappiness, Benedict Arnold nevertheless had command of West Point, a crucial defense post. In secretly coded letters, he actually tried to sell West Point to the enemy for 20,000 Pounds (about $3,000,000 USD today). He escaped capture, joined the British troops, relocated his family to London and died alone there in 1801. Ironically, he was unpopular in England as well. Seems like no one likes a traitor, even if he's your traitor. History has effectively erased his many acts of heroic valor in defense of liberty.
All in consequence of his choices.
In his great book Man's Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes his experiences as a Jew incarcerated at Germany's Auschwitz camp during World War II. He noted that the Nazis took away every piece of property, including their clothes and even the fillings of their teeth. They took away every human right except one. He profoundly observes that they could not take away each one's ability to think and to choose for oneself what would become of them. He wrote:
Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human
freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to
choose one's own way. In the final analysis, it becomes clear that the sort
of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not
the result of camp influence alone... Fundamentally, therefore, any man
can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him--
mentally and spiritually.
You are free to choose how you will deal with life's circumstances, both its challenges and opportunities. That is the power principle. Will you crumble or conquer? Will you cower or cope? You have the power and the decision is yours!
Meanwhile, choose the right. Stay strong. And See The Change!
Jesse L. Dunn is an author and sought after teacher and speaker on the topics of human and corporate development. His motivating, entertaining and content-rich sessions have benefitted thousands. To bring him to your next initiative, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org