The true meaning of success
Define and refine and ja-well-no-fine
The definition of success has changed over the ages. We live in a grossly materialistic time, and more often than not success is measured in terms that relate to Forbes Ratings (in certain echelons) and cheap but shiny bling (in other circles). The value of a happy family life and personal integrity in business dealings seem to have taken a backseat, while conspicuous consumption and acquisitive delight have overtaken the quiet joy of self-sufficiency and living within one’s means.
The Way of the Samurai
The Bushido code has seven laws that comprise a successful life:
- “Gi” – Integrity (The ability to make the right choice even if nobody knows about it, to do what is right for the clan).
- “Yuuki” – Bravery, courage.
- “Jin” – Kindness and compassion to all regardless.
- “Rei” – politeness and caring.
- “Makoto”- Honesty (respecting the laws of the universe).
- “Meiyo” – enjoy the honour (honour can only be enjoyed when it is earned).
- “Chuugi” – Loyalty and trustfulness (unconditionally practised)
Nowhere is there the law that requires one to have things at the cost of others, to demand and display your wealth, to exploit and damage the planet for your own immediate comfort in order to be considered successful.
Closer to home
An extraordinary South African, Jan Smuts, was called by the Master of Christ’s College at Cambridge “one of the outstanding minds in 500 years of college history” (along with John Milton and Charles Darwin). He coined the term “holism’ and after Albert Einstein had read his book “Holism and Evolution”, he said the two mental constructs that will direct human thinking will be his own of relativity and Smut’s of Holism. In 1946 Smuts spoke to the world in a broadcast on BBC, emphasizing *that the human will not long be satisfied with materialistic achievements; that the debasing of values would end in force, that the advancement of culture and dignity of persons was the only antidote to violence.
This man was present at the signing of the treaty at Vereeniging ending the Anglo-Boer War, as well at the treaties at the end of World Wars I and II. How magnificently, tragically, prophetically right he has been: The humiliation of the Afrikaner by the British for centuries, and the evil machinations of the Jingoes (Rhodes and Milner) to engineer a war to steal the mineral wealth of this land, lead directly to enactment in the form of Apartheid, and the humiliation of the Germans at the end of the First World War culminated in the Second World War, exactly as predicted by Smuts. Look at the world at war in our time, and examine what mankind is doing to mankind, in Palestine and Syria, India and Israel… Then go back and back. Trace what has been done to groups that permit them to do what they are doing to others. Business acumen and amassing of wealth by the few, miracles of science and medical wonders, have not prevented us from harming our own kind. Then look at what Smuts said above.*
What does success mean to you?
Is success having a super-healthy bank balance or doing no harm? Does a successful society produce whole children who can of themselves impart meaning and impetus to their lives, or people that feel that happiness can only be found behind the steering wheel of an expensive car and surrounded by things that glister? Can a successful entrepreneur also be kind? Would success lie in finding a way to share the resources of the planet more fairly or in exhausting it for instant riches and with no thought given to our children’s children? Can we get away with lack of respect for one another or will we destroy ourselves in the process? Lack of dignity and respect is fertile soil for anger to grow, and it will target anything in its way, seldom reaching the actual cause.
What does success mean to you? Isn’t it time we redefined?
Author: Suenel Bruwer Holloway is a playwright, poet, speechwriter, translator and editor as well as guest writer. She specializes in satirical social commentary, the arts, education, book reviews and three course picnics. She comes from a long line of hat wearers.
Suenel is available for guest posts and can be contacted at the e-mail address provided.