VI. To surpass the difficulty

50.  The miracle of the perseverance
51.  The test of the pain
52.  The blows of the life
53.  The interior liberty to elect
54.  Intelligent memory
55.  Successes and failures
56.  Be recovered
57.  The pain of the others
58.  Defending the rights of the others 
59.  The human will

50.  The miracle of the perseverance

A teacher named Anne Sullivan is hired to educate to Helen Keller, a girl of Alabama that suffers a serious disability.  As consequence of some fevers that she had passed in 1882, when she had only 19 months of age, Helen remained deaf, blind and mute, in such a way that she went converting little by little in a stranger and incapable of communicate. 

When the teacher arrived at Helen's house she founded a family living this misfortune in a wrong and traumatic way.  The girl was very badly educated and was spoilt.  They have maintained her always doing what she wanted, thinking that, since she was an unfortunate girl, that at least she could do always everything that she desired.  Moreover, it seemed impossible to communicate with her to try to help her.  Only the mother maintained a light hope, and therefore they hire the teacher. 

Under these conditions, Helen was living in a completely remote world and she didn't know how to break that bubble in which she lived and that carried her to react each time with more rage and frustration.  Her older brother, although by jealousy used to react negatively against her, was the one who saw with more lucidity than the main problem of his sister was the conformism of their parents. 

The teacher was living also a traumatic and dark past.  She had constantly in the memory the death of a small brother. She felt responsible of this situation.  This feeling of guilt moved Anne to treat Helen in a very special way.  This was her first work and Anne desired to be redeemed thus of the feeling of guilty that she had been charging since the death of her brother. 

The first step of Anne was to communicate with Helen conquering her aggressiveness with firmness and patience.  The following step was to teach her the alphabet.  Anne put Helen in contact with the objects and she spelled each word to her by means of signs in the palm of the hand.  Helen began to feel encouraged.  Each thing that she founded, she caught it and she asked to Anne how was it called.  Thus she began to discover new words and new ideas, with which she learned little by little to express herself.  As a consequence of all that effort, Helen began to be more peaceful and happy.  She learned to read and to write in Braille, and to decipher the lips of the people touching them with her fingers and feeling the movement and the vibrations. 

With the arrival of Anne Sullivan, all the family began a parallel change to that of Helen's.  All of them, even the same Anne, began to discover who they were mutually.  The physical isolation that Helen had suffered was similar to the emotional isolation that had suffered the rest of the family.  Little by little they learnt how to surpass it.  The miraculous change observed in Helen became a change extended to all, because with those improvements in the communication, all they managed to see, to hear and to speak in the same language, to discover the world and to see it from the perspective of the others. 

Soon the girl began to attend the school.  Anne acted as the interpreter.  Anne translated in signs on a hand of Helen what the professors said in class.  At the same time, Helen transcribed her communication in Braille.  Thus Helen managed to graduate brilliantly in Radcliffe College in 1904.  She had an extraordinary intelligence and memory and also an extraordinary power of concentration.  In those years she wrote "The history of my life", that had a fast success and, from which, she became a globally famous author and lecturer until her death in 1968. 

At first, the efforts of Anne crashed with the mental storminess of the small blind, deaf and mute, and then they told to the teacher:  "But you had never felt the discouragement?  You had never said that this is impossible?"  To what Anne responded:  "That is the great error, to desist". 

Each day small and large miracles are produced.  Who with too much facility tells that he cannot do something, which this is impossible and the like, will leave his life incomplete.  We are what we want to be.  We can get from us what already we are potentially.  We are unrepeatable, and it is a pity to waste our own virtues and, by the discouragement, to convert our life in a insubstantial existence.

51.  The test of the pain

"I have always been considered in my professional environment -told to me not long ago an old friend- as a very demanding person.  I have always required a lot to myself and I have also always required a lot to the others. 

"It cost me a lot to understand that there was people who couldn't continue my rhythm, and sometimes, I have to recognize it, I mistreated them.  And at home the situation was similar.  I threw the things in face of my woman and of my children with very little consideration. 
"And the illness had to come, and then those serious problems in the work, so that I began to understand that the life was not as simple as I had considered previously. 

"The truth is that I had functioned always as a winner, overflowing with health and with professional success, and, without being conscious of it, I underestimated the others.  I thought that, if they didn't achieve what I achieved, was simply because they didn't want to strive as I did. 

"I thought thus until I began to feel in my body all that suffering, to note in my life the weight of that load.  It was then when I began to pay attention to the fact that the others also suffered, that in the life there is a lot of suffering of many people.  And I understood that to pass without consideration near to that pain is something really unworthy. 

"I had begun to sleep badly, and then I had a lot of time to think.  At the beginning I was annoyed, but soon I realized that with protests you don't solve anything: neither have you slept neither have you solved the worries that you have.  It is curious, but before I was very irascible, and now, on the other hand, I have become quite serene and comprehensive.  I believe that these experiences have created a new phase in my life. 

"To me, the pain has hardened my soul. It has made possible to me to understand a little better to the others.  I barely had had serious problems before and I used to judge to the others with hardness and with coldness.  Now, I see all in a different way.  I don't longer shout to my secretary neither I fight with my woman or with my children." 

Recalling the story of that young and brilliant executive, I was thinking about the different way in which the people receive the pain.  To some it improves them and to others, on the other hand, it despairs them.  And I thought about the lesson that this person obtained: that one must understand better to the people, because who surround us are people that also suffer, and that it is always hard; and that there are people that have a hard time, and perhaps in part by our fault, and that every man should always stop when he detects the suffering of another man and he should do all the possible things to remedy it. 

The pain is a school where the hearts of the men are formed in the mercy.  The pain is a school that gives us the opportunity to cure our selfishness and to incline us a little more toward the others.  It causes us to see the life in a special way; it shows us a deeper profile of the things.  It carries us to reflect, to ask us about the sense that has everything that happens around us.  The man, by receiving the visit of the pain, lives a test inside his life: it is like a pinch that stops the normal course of his life, as a stop that invites him to think.  Therefore it has been said that every philosophy and every deep reflection acquires a special lucidity in the proximity of the pain and of the death. 

The pain, if one knows how to assume it, informs to the man about the error of living in a superficial way. It aids to the man to be near to the others, to be not lounged in his selfishness.  The pain turns us more comprehensive, more tolerant, it cures us of our intransigence, and it perfects us.  It is, besides, a reality that arrives to every man and that, therefore, in certain sense -as has been indicated by Enrique Rojas-, conducts to a kind of universal fraternization, since it equals to all of us by the same standard. 

What makes happy the life of the man is not the absence of the pain, among others things, because this is something impossible.  The life cannot be designed from a childlike philosophy that wants to remain alien to the mystery of the presence of the pain or of the evil in the world.  And to be annoyed or to be scandalized in front of that reality doesn't bring to anywhere.  Learning to live together with the pain, to learn to tolerate the inevitable bad thing, is a fundamental wisdom to live with success. 

52.  The blows of the life

William Shakespeare wrote that there is not another way to the maturity that to learn to bear the blows of the life.  Because the life of any man wanted or not, brings always blows.  We see that there are selfishness, wickedness, lies, ingratitude.  We observe with amazement the mystery of the pain and of the death.  We find defects and limitations in the others, and we verify it likewise each day in ourselves. 

All that painful experience is something that, if we know how to assume it, can go causing the growth of our interior maturity.  One must know how to take advantage of those blows, to know how to remove all the hidden value that encloses the situations that contradicts to us, to achieve our improvement avoiding the things that discourage to the others and sinks them. 

And why the situations that sinks to some persons to others causes maturation and causes growth?  It depends on how those misfortunes are received.  If we do not meditate on them, or we meditate but without undertaking it well, we lose excellent occasions to mature, or even the contrary effect is produced.  The lack of own knowledge, the thoughtlessness, the victimism, the useless defiance, they do those blows more painful, that those blows fill us of bad experiences and of very few lessons. 

The simple course of the years does not always contribute automatically to the person's maturity.  It is certain that the maturity grows in an almost imperceptible way, but the maturity is something that is reached always thanks to a process of education -and of self-education-, that one must know how to focus well. 

The education received in the family, for example, is decisive without any doubt.  The parents cannot be always behind their children, protecting them or advising them every minute.  They should be nearby, this is certain, but the son should learn how to face alone with the reality. He should learn to realize that there are things, like the frustration of an intense desire, the disloyalty of a friend, the sadness in front of the limitations of the own or of the alien defects, that are realities that each one should learn little by little to surpass alone.  Independently of how much someone has helped you, at the end is always one same who should assume the pain that he feels, and to put the necessary effort to surpass that frustration. 

A demonstration of immaturity is the excessive anxiety to be loved.  The person that desires intensely to receive demonstrations of affection, and that does of that vehement eagerness to be loved a permanent and grievous anxiety in his life, establishes some psychological dependence that move him away of the true sense of the affection and of the friendship.  A person like this is so subordinate to who gives to him the affection that he needs, that he finishes by emptying and even to lose the sense of their liberty. 

Knowing how to manage the blows of the life does not signify to be insensitive.  It has more relation with learning to ask to the life not more than it can give, although without falling in the conformism or in the mediocrity; with learning to respect and to reckon the differences of the ohers from us, but maintaining some convictions and some clear principles; with being patients and to know to yield, but without any surrender of rights neither to give up the own personality. 

We should learn to be patient.  To live knowing that all the important things are fruit of continuous effort, that always costs and needs time.  To be patient with ourselves, that is decisive for the own maturity, and to be patient with all (above all with the ones that we have closer). 

And we could spoke about, finally, of another type of patience, not little important: the patience with the obstinacy of the reality that surrounds us.  Because, if we want to improve our environment, we need to arm us of patience, to prepare us to bear misfortunes without fall in the bitterness.  By the patience, the man becomes owner of himself; he learns to strengthen in the middle of the adversities.  The patience offers peace and interior serenity.  It makes the man capable to see the reality with vision of future, without being entangled in the immediateness.  It causes him to look the events with a broad mind, which take thus a new perspective.  These are values that perhaps become more important in our personal horizon to the extent that the life advances, because each time we value more the patience, to know how to suffer the blows of the life, to maintain the hope and the happiness in the middle of the difficulties. 

53.  The interior liberty to elect

"I was working as a nurse and I was attending some months the most unpleasant man than you can imagine.  Nothing of what I did could satisfy him.  He never appreciated it, neither thanked he nothing, neither he showed any recognition.  He complained constantly and he founded defects to everything. 

" The case is that, because of that man, I was during a period of time feeling me of enough bad humor, due that to attend him supposed for me a lot of daily time, and that annoyed me a lot, and those rages left me altered for the rest of the day, and finally were the rest of the patients, my companions and my family who suffered more the consequences of my state of spirit. 

" And it was then when a companion, with which one that I had a lot of confidence, had the audacity to tell me that nobody could wound me without my consent.  She explained to me that, at the bottom of the problem, was I who at every moment elected my own emotional way of life that carried me to the unhappiness. 

" In the beginning, it seemed to me that her counsel was a theoretic and unacceptable.  But I was thinking about it some days, until the moment that I faced to myself with true sincerity and I began to ask me:  Am I really capable to influence in my reaction in front of  the circumstances that appear in my life? 

" When at last I understood that I could do it or that, at least, I could do it quite better, I understood that the fact that I was feeling so unfortunate was, basically, my fault.  And it was then when I knew that I could elect not to be unhappy, that I should free myself of that strange dependence of the way in which that patient was treating me.  That was a discovery that has influenced later a lot in my life, now I see it, several years later.  Since then, I attend to that type of people in a different way. They are no longer odious to me, as before.  It is more; I am convinced that to treat with them does me a lot well." 

The story of this nurse shows us that the circumstances of difficulty, if they are taken judiciously, use to give us rise to changes in the way that we understand the life, new frames of reference are opened to us, through which, the persons see to the world, to the others and to ourselves in a different way, and this allows us to enlarge the perspective, to mature our principles and to reach new values. 

It is true that our life is quite conditioned by many things that happen to us and that we can barely act on them.  But all they can be surpassed if they are assumed adequately.  All we have known, for example, individuals that have passed through very difficult circumstances -a painful illness, a serious physical deficiency, a hard economic or emotional misfortune- and, in spite of it, they maintained an extraordinary fortress of spirit.  Observing those people, to see how they confront the suffering or they surpass the onslaught of a misfortune or a strong obstacle, leaves always impressed to us and we feel a large admiration towards them.  They are attitudes that give life to the values that inspire them.  In that sense, it can be told that the difficulties, to which we are submitted, in a sense, play to our favor.  The difficulties cause to light up our mediocrity and they offer us a splendid occasion to surpass us, to give the best of ourselves. 

And in the same way that in the childhood and in the adolescence the persons become hardened and surpassed to themselves with the effort in front of the difficulty, and, on the contrary, the easy life creates spoiled and weak creatures, of similar way, it could be able to be told that our professional value, our love or our friendship, mature in front of a difficult environment, they become fixed with more force and authenticity in an environment in that not all comes given. 

The history barely knows cases of greatness, of splendor or of true creation, that have had their origin in the comfort or in the easy life.  The talent does not bear fruit but in the forge of the difficulty.  Perhaps therefore said Horacio that in the adverse fortune uses to be discovered the genius, in the prosperity it is hidden. 

54. Intelligent memory

He had a car accident.  He was very seriously ill.  He had multiple fractures and a strong concussion.  After a few days, the gravity and the concussions had passed, but the fractures needed quite a lot more time, as it is logical.  Besides, there was another problem.  The memory failed to him.  It was not a question of recall, because he recalled the things that passed to him before the day of the accident.  The problem was that he didn't retain what passed to him after the accident.  He spoke with normality, but he didn't recall what he had said or he had listened some minutes before.  That is to say, he didn't "record". 

When in the morning they asked to him "¿how about the night?" his answer was invariably: "very well".  Nevertheless, the reality was that he passed some nights very badly, with so many wounds he was incapable to find a position that allow him to rest.  Nevertheless, he always said that he had passed a good night.  He didn't do it for removing importance to those inconveniences, but he was speaking with sincerity: he didn't recall anything of what had happened along the entire night, and he had then the security of having slept well.  By the lack of recall of his pains, for him they had never existed.  It was as if the nature had activated a mysterious mechanism with which it had advanced of to defend him of those sufferings. 

Fortunately, that inconvenience of the memory lasted just the necessary time, and some weeks later he returned to the normality.  All that carried me to think that the pain resides, in great measure, in the memory.  The sensation of suffering is consolidated when the imagination recalls it and revives it; if it was not so, the pain would be ephemeral and passing. 

The majority of the persons suffer more by recycling mentally the already passed pains that by the real damage that in their moment they had produced to us.  We suffer not by what we have suffered -when those failures were produced, exhaustions, insults, contempt, thoughtlessness, etc. -, but for which we suffer reviving them time and again. 

An example.  If a person allows to the critical and negative memories to take possession of his mind, he can be found misinterpreting constantly all the facts and all the words of the others, and that he judges them with an extraordinary severity.  He realizes that his head has become a kind of ring of boxing, where the people with whom he treats are passing, and he fights against them one after another with his devastating criticism.  And he can pass thus the day, every day. 

The pains and physical inconveniences are habitually much less and a lot much smaller that the ones that are produced by our own psychology.  I do not want to say with this that all the sufferings are bad.  The suffering brings always with them a message and a teaching.  There are pains that correspond to errors or events that are not convenient to forget, or at least not to forget completely, because they help us to have experience and to maintain the sensibleness.  And in the same way that the physical pain notifies us that something in the body does not go well, and thanks to that we try to put remedy, the interior pains also notify us of that something does not function, and they press us to remedy it.  But, if those notices are not known to interpret, if  the suffering is not well undertaken, new sufferings are produced, as consequence of their continuous revival in the imagination, and those are used to be rigorously useless and harmful.  And, although perhaps at the beginning they are small, with so much go and return, time and again, they finish leaving a deep furrow in the memory. 

The memory is not like a simple store without rhyme or reason.  The intelligence is shown by knowing how to hoard the information that really interests us and in knowing how to take advantage of it.  It should not only be stored, but to be stored with intelligence.  And, as Jaime Nubiola has written, there are exciting, creative and impassioned imaginations, and other narrower ones that impoverish ourselves, the own possibilities, or the possibilities of the others.  And in most of the circumstances only we can really understand to the ones that surround us if we think well of them.  Therefore, the imagination requires a work of purification. 

55.  Successes and failures

There was once a king that told to the wise men of the court:  "They are doing for me a precious ring with an extraordinary diamond, and I want to keep inside it a very brief message, a thought that could help me in the most difficult moments, and that help my heirs and to the heirs of my heirs, for always". 

Those wise men could be able to have written large treaties on many themes, but to write a message of only two or three words was quite a more complicated thing.  They thought, they sought in their books, but they did not find anything.  The king consulted then with an elderly servant by whom he felt a great respect.  That man told him:  "Many years ago, I was some days serving to a great friend of your father.  When he was going to depart, as a gesture of gratitude, he delivered to me this tiny doubled paper.  He insisted to me that I should not read it before I needed it truly, when all the other things had failed". 

That moment did not delay in arriving.  The country was invaded and the king lost his kingdom.  He was fleeing in his horse to save the life and his enemies pursued him.  He arrived into a place where the road finished.  There was no exit.  A precipice was in front of him.  He could neither return, because the enemy blocked the way to him.  He listened already the horse's jog of his pursuers.  When he was going to yield, he remembered about the ring.  He opened it; he removed the role and read the mysterious message.  It consisted only of four words:  "This will pass also". 

He had then forces to resist a little more.  His enemies should be lost in the forest, because little by little he finished of listen the jog of the horses.  The king recovered the spirit, he met to his armies and he regained the kingdom.  There was a great celebration, with banquet, music and dances.  He felt very proud of his triumph.  The elder man was seated to his side, in a preferential place, and he told to him:  "Now is also a good moment to read the message".  "¿What do you mean?", asked the king.  "That message is not only for when you are the last one; is also for when are the first one". 

The king read it again, and again he felt the same peace, the same silence, in the middle of the crowd that celebrated and danced, but his pride, his arrogance, his egomania had disappeared.  He understood that all passes, that any success or any failures are permanent.  As the day and the night, there are moments of happiness and moments of sadness, and one must accept them as part of the duality of the nature, because they belong to the same essence of the things. 

This old story invites us to think about those moments of depression or of exaltation by which we all pass, at times, in a small space of time.  Then, the positive or the negative thing seems to occupy completely our head.  The memory stands out the failures or the successes, according to the case, and we can feel us called alternatively to the disaster or to the glory.  And probably we have a lack of objectivity in both cases.  Therefore, that message of "this will also pass" is a call and an invitation to raise the look beyond the success or the failure of the present, to think about the long time of the life, in what we do expect of it, in what is what gives sense to it. 

Then, immediately we see that the success is dissipated in a disillusion if has not been reached like an ideal of service.  Only we find sense to a life that has been worn away in favor of the others.  The illusion is maintained only if it is aimed toward high ideals, because, like the poet said, "if you want the furrow to be straight, tie your plow to a star". 

We have to know how to obtain that the large achievements are well assumed and well maintained.  Many times it costs more to maintain that to create.  It costs more to be maintained on a wave that to rise over it, but, in any case, the wave will never be eternal. 

We show intelligence when we know how to learn of the failures and we are not foolishly conceited with the triumphs.  Therefore it has been said that an intelligent man recovers immediately from a failure, but a mediocre man never recovers of a triumph. 

56.  To be redone

Juan Manuel de Prada has described, with his habitual sharpness, the admirable reborn of the city of Dresden, comparable to the revival of the Bird Phoenix.  The night of February 13, 1945, the allied aviation flew over the capital of Saxony, like a band of apocalyptical ugly birds, and she discharged on her an immensity of gunpowder that reduced her to ashes and decimated her inhabitants.  Sixty thousand people were devoured by the homicidal blindness of the bombs, while the palaces and the churches of the city decayed noisily, lighting the pyre of the hate.  There are some photographs conserved that portray the physiognomy of Dresden after that terrifying night, with all her princely splendor reduced to ruins, among that surface, here and there, like burned chrysanthemums, thousands of corpses with the eyes still showing their drowsiness and, nevertheless, open to the epiphany of the cruelty.  The buildings became converted into cliffs of nightmare, between the noise of the smoke and the silence of the death.  That night the Elbe's water paraded with that mortuary slowness of the injured animals, and the herb that grows in its banks was faded, decorated by the mourning and the rain of ash that during days fell on the city. 

But the life is stubborn like a pendulum, and Dresden resurrected of that mortality.  Their inhabitants, guided by that unanimous fervor that extols to the pursued, knew how to be recovered of the successive pillages (first the Nazi, that ransacked her art galleries by considering that they harbored a "degenerate art"; later that of the bombardment of the allied troops; and finally the Soviet, that supplied their museums at the cost of the already so spoiled city), and those unfortunate men knew how to transform the grudge in a land that, without denying the memory, prompted her renaissance.  By means of popular subscription, the churches and palaces were raised again, until the city recovered its original aspect.  Today, the most symbolic buildings of Dresden mix, as in a puzzle, the clean stones of the restoration with the stones previous to the war.

Contemplating that panorama of civic dignity, that really recalls us that formidable mythological bird that was reborn from his own ashes, stands out in front of our eyes the capacity of the man to be redone.  Every person passes through situations of crisis, in which all seems to prompt us to desist, in which to be abandoned to the misfortune seems the more reasonable solution.  They are crisis more or less deep, and in an extensive sense would be able to be told that all we pass each day by several of them.  They are small battles, that go tempering our spirit, in which we learn to take those small decisions that form in us a way of reacting against the things that contradicts us, in which we confront a misfortune or we leave us to carry for his wake of pessimism and demolition. 

It is precise to educate us in what could be able to be called as vitality, in the capacity to redo us.  And thus one must learn how to control those internal psychic functions that feelings of boldness and of magnanimity, of enthusiasm and of constancy.  That is the intelligent solution, because the intelligence is a lot more than doing reasoning or to resolve formal problems.  The intelligence should direct our motivation, to carry cleverly the negotiation with our limitations, and she should also know how to resist when she sees that we yield us before of time.  Because many times we admit too soon that we are not capable of resolving a problem, or that the problem does not have solution, when in reality the true problem is our hasty cancellation of the effort. 

57.  The pain of the others

The biographers of Buddha count that, in certain occasion, a mother came to him carrying in her arms a dead boy.  She was a widow, and that boy was her only son, that constituted all her love and her attention.  The woman was already old, so that she never would be able to have another son.  Hearing her shouts, the people thought that she had gone crazy by the pain and that, therefore, she asked the impossible thing. 

But, on the other hand, Buddha thought that, if he could not resurrect to the boy, he was able at least to mitigate the pain of that mother helping her to understand.  Therefore he told her that, to cure her son, he needed some seeds of mustard, but some very special seeds, some seeds that had been collected in a house in which in the last three years had not passed some great pain or suffered the death of a relative.  The woman, seeing the growth of her hope, ran to the city seeking from house to house those miraculous seeds.  She called to many doors.  And in some it had died a father or a brother; in other, someone had gone crazy; in those of beyond there was an old paralytic or a sick boy.  The night arrived and the poor woman returned with the empty hands but with peace in the heart.  She had discovered that the pain was something that she was sharing with all the humans. 

It is not a matter of that, when the misfortune appears, we resort to the old proverb of "bad of many, consolation of fools", but to accept with simplicity that the man, every man, whichever could be his situation, is as penetrated by the pain.  It is a matter of understanding that he must be able to be happy in spite of that constant presence of the pain: it is impossible to live without it, therefore it is an inheritance that all the men have received without exception. 

What this anecdote teaches to us is that worse than the same pain is the deceit to think that we are the unique that suffer or, at least, of the ones that suffer more.  The worse thing is that the pain convert us in egotistical people, in people that only have eyes to look toward the own sufferings.  Perceiving with more depth the pain of the others permits to us to measure and to situate better ours. 

It is not easy to give answer to the mystery of the pain.  It is true that there are some explanations that cause us to glimpse its sense, although always are for us insufficient in front of the tragedy of evil in the world, in front of the suffering of the innocent, or in front of the triumph -at least apparent- of those who do evil.  This is an important theme for reflection, an enigma in which, to my way to see, only from a Christian perspective one can advance really toward the core of the problem, but this reflection should be for us not a distraction of the daily battle by perceiving and to wipe away the pain of the others, by diminishing it, by trying to do of it something that teach us, that makes us stronger, that cannot destroy us. 

I refer myself to the battle against the despair, against that state of mind that lacerates the souls of so many people that do not find sense to what happens in their lives, that causes them to drag them the feet of the soul, to walk for the life with the frightened fatalism with which a fish travels through the edges of its fishbowl.  The own pain is perhaps the best warning to pay attention to the pain of the others, to declare them our affection and our proximity, and to do thus more human the world in which we live. 

58.  Defending the rights of the others

Abraham Lincoln was elected member of the House of Representatives of the State of Illinois in 1834.  He was always opposed firmly to the slavery, in spite of having been born in Kentucky, a state where was recognized and exercised this practice.  In 1837 he was one of the two members of the Camera that signed an abolitionist proposal.  He was chosen member of the Congress of the United States in 1846.  He quickly formulated a plan of gradual emancipation in the federal district of Columbia. 

When he finished his mandate as federal congressperson, in 1849, he returned to Springfield to continue exercising his profession of lawyer.  But in 1854, due to his amazement in front of the approval of the Law Kansas-Nebraska, favorable to the slavery and promoted by the senator Stephen Arnold Douglas, he decided to return to the politics and he contended against him as the candidate to the Federal Senate, but he was defeated. 

In 1858 he was again candidate against Douglas, and they maintained then a long series of debates about the slavery.  In spite of the fact that finally Lincoln did neither won in those elections. The dialectic confrontation turned out to be memorable and he gained the recognition of a good part of the public opinion of the country. 

In 1860, Lincoln was nominated as presidential candidate in a platform of antislavery and he initiated a hard campaign in which he funded to Douglas as one of his hardest rivals.  This time, Lincoln gained the elections by a very broad majority and he initiated his mandate as President in March of 1861.  Immediately he set in motion an antislavery program that culminated with the Proclamation of the Emancipation of January 1, 1863.  He had to wait until his reelection, in November of 1864, to obtain the necessary supports to consolidate the effects of such measure, and in 1865 an Amendment to the Constitution was incorporated that assured that neither the slavery neither the involuntary servants would exist never in the United States neither in any territory subject to their jurisdiction. 

It has already passed a one an half centuries since all those passionate political and social debates on the legitimacy of the slavery took place.  Lincoln defended that the slavery was unjust in itself, while Douglas said that it was indifferent for him that the country voted favorably or against it, while it was respected what the majority wanted.  "Let leave the country to decide -affirmed Douglas-, so that the citizens of each state determine the proslavery status or not of their territory". 

The phenomenon of the slavery is a sample of how entire countries can remain plunged during centuries in surprising errors, and of how much has it cost to abandon the blindness.  This is a sample of how some truths turn out to be clearer in certain moments, while others, likewise true, contradict very established attitudes and habits, and it costs a lot to recognize them.  And this is also a sample to demonstrate that not always there is a direct relation between the truth and the number of people that support it.  Lincoln was acting in a higher moral territory than the simply legal one of Douglas, and he maintained that the mere majority does not legitimize any decision, because neither the 99 for 100 of the votes justifies that the human rights of the remaining 1 per 100 can be deprived. 

To defend the rights of the defenseless -be them slaves, not born or oppressed people by any motive- will always be a commendable cause for who do not let their conscience dilute in the  comfortable refuge of the mass.  And as, at the end the majorities are who decide, the fact to defend to the weak, to the absent, to whom is pressed by the dictatorship of the majorities, to whom does not have voice neither vote in the decisions that affect to him to defend the rights of the others is something that makes more human to the people and also to the all society. 

59.  The human will

In the first decades of the 19th century, the towns and countries approach with more rapidity than even before in millenniums.  The arrival of the railroad, of steam ships and, shortly after, of the telegraph, supposed a gigantic change in the rhythm and in the measure of the velocity with which move the people or the news. 

To that unstoppable advance is opposed, nevertheless, a great obstacle.  While the words spread instantly from an extreme to another of Europe, and even of Asia, thanks to the porcelain's insulators placed in the telegraphic posts, it was impossible to transmit through the sea.  And although in 1851 it was accomplished the union of England with the rest of Europe by means of an underwater cable, the possibility to do the same thing crossing all the Atlantic seems to all an unrealizable utopia.  Any communication between Europe and America supposed at least two or three weeks of navigation. 

In those first years of the electricity, almost all the factors remain still ignored: nobody had measured the depth of the sea, neither nobody knew the geology of the bottom; nobody knew if a cable at bid depth would manage to bear the tremendous abyssal pressures.  Any capable ships existed capable to transport the load that supposed the almost four thousand kilometers of cable and, besides, nobody assured that an electric signal could be maintained through such a long distance.  All the experts considered the idea as an impossible one. 

But, as it wrote Stefan Zweig relating this memorable episode, in order that a miracle could be carried out, or somewhat miraculous, it has always been precise like first condition that someone have faith in that miracle.  In 1854, a young businessman, 35 years old, called Cyrus W. Field, full of enthusiasm, had the proposal to link the two continents by means of an underwater cable and, with an energy capable of surpassing any obstacle, he got to work. 

Field sought the enormous necessary capital; he conditioned the ships, he put in motion the production of the cable and did a first attempt in August of 1857, which failed due to a fortuitous break of the metallic thread: an insignificant technical error wasted the work of years.  The following summer he tried it again, but this time it was a great storm the one that frustrated the project again, because ten days of tremendous temporal leaved the reels that one of the ships carried in its wine cellars so much damaged, that a month that there was not sufficient cable to cover the required distance.  The third trip was carried out a month later, had to surpass strong pressures of the majority of the investors that considered better to sell the cable that remained and to renounce to a project that was seen each time as more risky.  But the crossing finished with a spectacular success, because he managed to link the cable without misfortunes and Field was received in America in the middle of large feasts and celebrations. 

Nevertheless, after a few days, the telegraph stopped functioning.  The extraordinary enthusiasm, the impassioned wave of joy, was converted suddenly in another of malicious bitterness and accusation against Field that had to be hidden as a criminal in front of who yesterday were his friends and admirers. 

By space of six years, the cable remained forgot in the sea, and the most audacious project of the 19th century turned out to be converted in a legend again.  Nobody thought about resuming the work partially achieved.  It seemed that the terrible rout had paralyzed all the forces and drowned every enthusiasm.  Nevertheless, in 1865, the project was launched again.  Even when the first attempt failed, and two days before arriving to the goal the cable broke and the ocean swallowed again 600.000 sterling pounds. The following summer, the July 27 1866, the project was crowned with the final success. 

This episode is a proof of how the ingenuous value of a man without experience can enclose a great creative impulse, precisely in the occasions in which all the experts hesitate.  The new miraculous force of the epoch, the electricity, was mixed with the strongest dynamic element of the nature: the human will.