Tenacity is the quality of being able to grip something firmly and, by extension, the quality of being very determined. At Business and Values, we pay particular attention to the interactions between the subject “tenant” and the object “held“, which frame the notion of tenacity. To anchor this construction in the concrete of observation and action, let’s take a look at the poets, with Victor Hugo and his sublime Ultima Verba. Non-French speakers will #ExcuseMyFrench and rely on google and the engaged and talented writers from their country if they prefer to (thanks in advance for sharing!).
Who are the “tenant”, the “held”, and the “tenacity”?
Hugo is the “tenant” subject of our study. France is the “held” object. Tenacity is that strong and intimate connection that Hugo demonstrates to France. Hugo says he is ready to defend France, and fight to the last for her. FR: “s’il en reste dix, je serai le dixième ; et s’il n’en reste qu’un, je serai celui-la ! » EN: “If there are ten left, I will be the tenth; And if there is only one left, I’ll be the one! ”
Why does the “tenant” subject show such “tenacity” towards the “held” object?
For Hugo, France is much more than a hexagon. She is his roots “the tomb of my ancestors”, his wings “the nest of my loves”, his flagship idea which guided him throughout his life and at the heart of his exile: “freedom”. Hugo is therefore so tenacious towards France, because he thinks so highly of her. Raising it to the rank of sacred “my altar”, from the Latin sacrare (consecrated to a deity), which shares the etymology of sacrificare (to make sacred, to sacrifice).
Who would you be willing to sacrifice yourself for?
A king, a God, a country, a chief, were the main sources of the sacrifices of long ago. And it continues to some extent. Think about it! Georges Brassens says humbly and delightfully in his eponymous son FR: “mourir pour des idees, d’accord, mais de mort lente.” EN: “to die for ideas, okay, but slow death.” While there are still women and men willing to die for ideas, most of us find ourselves willing to die for our loved ones… and for our children in the first place. The tenacity of the soldier, of the intellectual and of the artist braving death so that his country or his ideas may live and shine, is found in the tenacity of the parent fighting so that his children live and shine.
Life is fragile.
Simply speaking, as you know, the life of ideas, the life of our loved ones, and life itself, as brilliant and vital for us as it is, is held only by a thread, suspended between two shores. One move, one bad luck, one little tiny accident, and it’s gone! Victor Hugo knows it too well, who lost four of the five children they had with Adèle, including his dear Léopoldine, to whom he will devote his finest pages in “les contemplations“. Many of us live with this internal fear. Because the more we hold on to someone or something, the more difficult for us to let it go. And we keep on crying and saying “why?”, crying our feeling of injustice. Therefore, it is imperative to confront, as early and as seriously as possible, this reality of the cycle of life, and to learn to tame it.
Life is extraordinary.
What Hugo and grief teach us is that life truly “goes on” whenever life apparently “stops”. The love between two beings continues to live, in the evening of the life of the first to pack his/her bags. In the heart of the second. Listen to your hearts for a change! The ideas of the ones who leave continue to live, too. In the minds of their community, as well as in the minds of everyone who has simply heard and read about them. Look into your libraries for instance! The realizations of the ones who leaves continue to live, too. Tangible and intangible achievements. Look inside and around you! Who is dead? Who has disappeared? Not the memory, not the love, not the ideas, not the realizations, very much alive and sometimes even more than before! The body is gone, yes, and no longer lives. However, remains everything else, the essential, the most beautiful if I may say… Look! All that remains, this life, this love, and even sometimes gives birth to other lives, to other loves, to other ideas, to other achievements. Without altering the beauty of the firsts, which still remain too. It’s an addition, not a subtraction. FR “Nous marchons sur un tapis de feuilles mortes. » EN “We are walking on a carpet of dead leaves” Augustin said. This is what, in Life and Love, is so magnificent, and which we must understand, and cherish and protect.
What then is death?
An abuse of language, at least. A fable to scare, and control spirits. A fable to try to reassure ourselves, to try to explain what we do not understand. What we call “life” is often a tiny bit of what it is. Are we talking about the life of cells, the life of a beings, or just life? And if we are talking about the life of a being, when does it start? At his birth? Say this to a mother stroking her belly feeling her child pounding inside. At the time of procreation? Before that? And what about the life of all beings and cells?
So, what is death? Are we talking about the death of our cells? This begins long before our “death”, right? Do we speak of death as the stopping of the functioning of the so-called vital organs? We saw that life, our life, goes on in many ways after that. So do we speak of death like Jesus does, who speaks of a life that has so little meaning that it does not deserve to bear this name? FR: “Laisse les morts ensevelir leurs morts, toi, suis-moi ! » EN: “Let the dead bury their dead, you follow me!”
Is there life before death?
Without entering into the spiritual and metaphysical debate, this injunction of Jesus echoes two thousand years later this question of Coluche (the humorist) taken up by Pierre Rabhi (the peasant and philosopher). Is it really that, to live, to live in this world as we do? Live for what, for whom… and at what cost? Doesn’t our life resemble a journey aboard a very high-speed train (TGV), with eyes closed or most often on a screen, in “autopilot” mode? We talked about children and families earlier on. And the emotion arose. Let us look for a moment, with our eyes wide open, at the state of our larger family, the living beings one.
Our extended family.
We are currently witnessing the 6th mass extinction in our planet’s history, and it is the first for which we are responsible. By our actions and by our unreasonable consumption in all directions, by the colonization of virgin spaces we have marked and damaged the earth and her hosts of all kinds, with our imprint with a hot iron (au fer chaud!), by pollution, by our anti-social and anti-environmental actions. Without taking the risk of predicting what will happen next, let us have a look on the results of the past decades, on the war we are waging – drum beating (FR:”tambour battant“) – as unconscious as it is suicidal, against nature.
We have already lost – decimated one could more accurately say – 60% of insects, 60% of wild vertebrates, 60% of trees, 400 million birds in Europe, 1 billion birds in the United States, 80% of the freshwater species on the planet. The so-called “plastic” ocean is already 3 times the size of France and it continues to grow exponentially, the polar cap in Greenland is definitely lost with the consequences that one can imagine, more than 40 countries are in extreme or high water stress, 98% of pesticides reach something other than their initial target, 1000 billion animals, sensitive body and soul like us, are killed each year for our food, 1 child dies of hunger every 5 seconds, and approx 800,000 people die of pollution in Europe every year.
“Is this hell? » asks Agape, my dear 7 years old daughter, incredulous. “No, my love, this is us, this is now, this is here, this is our planet.”
Can we remain insensitive to this painting? (we call it “reality”)
Yes, we can! That’s what a large majority of us do every day, say 99% of us 99% of the time. Is that fair? Note I am not speaking here of humans in general but of us – the financially privileged ones – in particular. Indeed, if the picture would have become absolutely unbearable to us, we would have changed it or at least we would have done our best to change everything we can, no doubt!
How can we remain insensitive to this painting? (we call it “reality”)
It is the outcome of a complete stultification (FR: “un abrutissement complet“), as the other would say. The other, Patrick Le Lay, peace to his soul, ex CEO of TF1 (the first French TV channel, first in its name), who speaks the best. Here it is in the text. “TF1’s job is to help Coca-Cola, for example, sell its product. However, for an advertising message to be perceived, the viewer’s brain must be available. Our programs aim to make him available: that is to say to entertain him, to relax him in order to prepare him between two messages. What we sell at Coca-Cola is spare human brain time.” (Editor’s note: this is not a joke, just facts.)
Let the TV buffoons do their job as buffoons, as hucksters used to amuse the gallery, why not. The problem is, if the impact of the latter were limited, the impact of the former is on a total scale, and cataclysmic for the human brain, it is a mass crime. Visual content from television and the internet, broadcast on every screen, channel and other social media in the world, breaks into our brains like thunder and messes up everything in its path. This is a heist, a mental rape, of which most of us are victims. Willing victims? Obviously! Because this weapon takes the form of an addictive drug, the most powerful and the worst of all species: the one that hide her name and her true nature! And so we ask for more, in the morning when we wake up, throughout the day and until the evening when we go to bed. The image of Thomas Merton comes back to me. FR: “La nuit privée d’étoiles” NE: “The starless night”
And as we get poorer and poorer hearts and souls and dumber and dumber brains, thanks to our screens’ addictions, and as we get more and more distant from the nature of our world as it truly is, the life carnage continues. The flora and fauna of our land, the billions of us who live in the most precarious conditions, urge us to stop the massacre. But we continue. Hey, why not? Let’s zap to another channel. This one is far too boring my dear! Rather than hearing the sirens of benevolence screaming and talking to me about the benefits of the internet, and the multiple technical, therapeutic, and educational uses that I also welcome, let’s be a little humble and serious, together, and let’s look at our planet, our homeland, let’s look at our brothers and sisters in humanity who are dying with open mouths, let’s take the time to reread once again this very short paragraph “our extended family”. To understand that the hour is serious.
The state of emergency.
How long can we still pretend not to know what’s going on? Little time, fortunately and unfortunately one can say. Unfortunately, because the urgency is absolute given the extent of the damage, the complexity of the interactions, and the outburst of the system which, having exceeded its relaxation thresholds, risks at any time racing furiously, and breaking. Fortunately, because “better late than never” (mieux vaut tard que jamais) as the old saying goes and that, if there is a chance to get out of it, for ourselves and for our planet, it will be necessary that the awareness be the fastest and as radical as possible. Nothing is less certain, of course.
In this context, I declare the state of emergency. #whatifyoudietomorrow #beyondtheself #peopleandplanet
From blindness to myopia, distance and heritage.
We see that, as long as people do not feel affected in their depths, in their hearts and in their flesh, they are rare to show the empathy, the generosity and the daring sufficient to overthrow the system. Until now, all of this – the words, the numbers, the deaths, the extinctions – were happening too far away from us to be of major interest to us. Even if obviously a large majority of mainstream media – held by the great of this world – are more careful to entertain and brainwash us than making us aware and responsible for stopping this carnage, the ultra-presence of telecommunications today makes it impossible not to see the situation and associated risks.
The difficulty is therefore no longer blindness but myopia, that is too much distance, still. For example, through life coaching support to women victims of sexual violence in countries at war, I was able to observe with dismay the extraordinary distance that most of us keep with this type of population and situation. Not looking so far, even homeless people who die outside our doors in summer and winter do not hold our attention. It’s been 60 years everyone knows there are more vacant flats in Paris than homeless people. So what? Who would like to give back his nice apartment?
So… Hunger in Africa you said? Well… Not to say it’s of no one interest. But the emotion and the associated actions are rather limited in proportion of the catastrophe. All the madness of our colonial history still flows a lot through most of our veins of course, and it is therefore with a rather complete disdain that we chatter absent-mindedly, at best, about that kind of subjects, or – worse – that we are proud of having done our part. In a blindness and obscenity that shivers down your spine. “Congrats for your donation! Will you take another cup of tea, darling?”
From myopia to clear vision.
But, very quickly, when the danger approaches us, our blood, our closest family – the “real” one – how ever small the danger may be – we strain our ears. Finally. See the case of COVID. The most insignificant and flashy of the global problems of the past two years, compared to those we have mentioned above. The consistency is, it has been held in an equally old and myopic fashion. The only difference being it retained our attention much longer cause it touches… ourselves! See before that the terrorist acts in France, Charly Hebdo, Le Bataclan, in 2015. Lots of French people felt they were touched in their flesh, in their blood, it raised a huge level of emotion, due to the immediate fear and com-passion (“suffer-with”, literally). People asked themselves “what if it was me, what if it was my family” … Aaaaaaaaah! That a black, gaunt child starves to death every 5 seconds in Africa, that’s not a big deal or, yeah, this is soooooo sad, but – hey – what can I do? The hype is in full swing on one side, and absolutely deaf on the other.
The state of consciousness.
It is not a question here of making the apology of some while denigrating others, nor of prioritizing the personal sorrows, of those who have lost loved ones, no… It is nevertheless, as Teilhard de Chardin and Pierre Rabhi invited us to reflect on, to participate in the elevation for the first, and in the insurrection for the second, of the state of consciousness of our humanity. Whether we feel close or not, we are close, in humanity, to our brothers and sisters on other continents, in other social conditions. We should need neither a war nor a world cup to realize that! Whether we realize it or not, we are close to our animal friends and family, whom we no longer know how to admire except in chains, in their leashes, in their kennels, in their cages, in zoos, under our yoke. Whether it is again obvious or still an obscure concept for you, we are intimately linked to our plants, which we have almost eradicated from the cities in which we live, and which we too are raising en masse, like cattle, of in the worst possible way, risking their lives … and ours of course. They feed us! We are into a possession and enslavement of the world and its nature and its worth. When the world is the world, life is life. It doesn’t exist to have a function “for” us. The Amazon Forest is not the lung of the earth. The amazon forest, and her inhabitants are who they are. Living species. Living being. That should be enough to be respected. To be celebrated. And, when in danger, to be protected and taken care of.
In this context, I declare the state of consciousness. #lifematters #beunreasonable
What is done is done. We messed up. Yes, we did. And we keep on messing up. Yes. Individually and collectively. You want some more nuances? Happy to spend some time on this with you. The species we destroyed will no longer be. The beings we destroyed will no longer be. Tell a mum to be all right with her baby sudden death because life goes on and there will be other babies, maybe for her, or for sure on the planet, with other mums. This is another example of what I call obscenity. We are not numbers. Each of us counts! And, I would add, the most fragile among us, which are often the most beautiful, they count double! We know, scientifically speaking, that some processes are irreversible. We will not revive dead birds, dead children, as sacrifices, on the altar of our madness.
Having said that, death – as such – is not a problem, at least not THE problem. As we saw above. The issue is if and how we want to live our life, and how we want to help others to live their lives? If you’re up for Wall-E adventure, then keep on moving, we’re nearly there! And, as you could see, there is still a pinch of hope and love and freedom in Wall-E land, despite our stubbornness and madness. As much as I loved its poetic fresco, I loved its warning against pollution and human inappropriate behavior and his manifesto for our people and our planet. And I love the idea that we won’t wait for a cute little robot in 700 years from now to re-ignite love and life on our planet. We may be able to start and do it ourselves as of now.
Despite my scientific background, it took me years to understand what was wrong with weather forecasting. The flapping of a butterfly’s wings metaphor explained me perfectly what was at stake. We can accurately predict when an eclipse will take place because it only involves earth movement around the sun and moon movement around the earth, which are both easily describable. But we have no clue if one little cloud will pass in front of this eclipse and prevent us from seeing it at the appointed time, because this involves so much more parameters, and far more sophisticated interactions between them all! In other words, we cannot anticipate the consequences of all this combined phenomenon. Following the same idea, one realizes how unpredictable humanity behaviors are. One person suddenly standing in front of a total impossibility, and the world changes: see Gandhi, see Mandela, see MLK. And there is no need for this person to become famous. See the Arabic spring!
So, again, hope and optimism is a rather rational state of mind. Even in worst case scenario. What if, for instance, a catastrophe of a new magnitude hits us. What if somebody stands up, what if a child and a mother we can all finally relate to take the mike and get not thousands and millions but billions of people to realize we could do something fantastic all together. What if Facebook was to become a quest book, a place dedicated to meaningful and purposeful projects and dialogs? What if all TV and social media channel were suddenly promoting exclusively informational and educational supports of the best and the most diverse quality, instead of playing the yo-yo and amplifying our envy and our greed?
Think about a world where, our screens and therefore our brains be fulltime connected to our people and our planet in a purposeful and positively impactful manner. Could be entertaining, could be fun too! The only small difference being, the sense, the meaning, the direction. What would be a world where any government any institution any federation any corporate any startup be measured and driven primarily based on People and Planet metrics. This is true sustainability.
When this context, these catastrophes on the one hand, and these opportunities on the other hand, really appear to you, in all their horror and in all their splendor, it only takes a few words and a few seconds to know how to direct your thoughts, and your life moving forward.
Here are those words of Montesquieu, who tells us, in the noblest way, how to set our course and to move on the paths of life:
“If I had something that was useful to me, and that was harmful to my family, I would throw it out of my mind. If I knew something useful to my family, and which was not useful to my homeland, I tried to forget it. If I knew something useful to my homeland and which was harmful to Europe, or else which was useful to Europe and harmful to mankind, I would regard it as a crime. ”
Here are those from Krishnamurti:
“Why do we live this meaningless life, working for forty years, breeding a few children, educating them in absurd ways, and then dying? Surely, life is not merely a job, an occupation, life is something extraordinarily wise and profound, it is a great mystery, a vast realm in which we function as human beings. Without knowing the purpose of life, my very existence has no meaning, and all my action is destructive. I earn a livelihood just to carry on; I suffer, and death awaits me. This is the way of life but what is the purpose of it all? If you can clarify the confusion within yourself, then you will find what the purpose of life is; you will not have to ask, you will not have to look for it.”
Here are those of Pierre Rabhi, one of our spiritual fathers:
“We will have to respond to our true vocation, which is not to endlessly produce and consume, but to love, admire and take care of life in all its forms.”
Back to tenacity.
I made a promise to my father, this man of my life who has passed away and is still so present in me. As well as my four children and their mothers, to devote my life to following this path. It is with the greatest tenacity that I get involved now, for myself, for them, for each of us, for our trees, apples, ladybugs, otters, and other beings of all kinds. To our children, to our fathers and mothers, to those who came before and to those who will come after, To our loved ones, to our land, to our life and to life in all its forms.
To face and overcome current colossal and unprecedented challenges, we must show the greatest tenacity, we must be unstoppable. We are the “tenant” subject of our life. Our people and planet are the “held” object of our life. And vice versa! Not because we want to use and abuse each other, but because we care about each other. Tenacity is that strong and intimate “connection” that we demonstrate to each other. Call it respect, call it care, call it love. It doesn’t make any difference. We can embrace them all.
We are one and the same thing. We are a small portion of one and the same big extended family. The living family. This humanity and this planet that brought us to life. My children and those children who are suffering a few steps away and others who are suffering even more a few hours by plane and who are also a part of my family. Their mothers, their fathers.
Suffering is not the preserve of the poor and the most financially deprived. The void of meaning and purpose creates abysmal suffering. And when the void of meaning meets the void of life, When the accident meets a life that does not know who she is or where she is going, Another disaster looms.
Tenacity is needed for those and everyone who contribute today and tomorrow to the safeguard, the preservation and the re-enchantment of the world in which we are, you and me. This is my life mission. It is the life mission of so many men and women who are still scattered today like star dust and who cry out, each, and sometimes already in groups, in their respective deserts. One day we will all be together. Men, women, children, living beings of flora and fauna around the world.
I leave you in song with Georges Moustaki. FR: “pour ceux qui ne sauront peut-etre jamais que la terre etait un jardin.” EN: “for those who may never know that the earth was a garden”.
“C’est une chanson pour les enfants qui naissent et qui vivent
entre l’acier et le bitume, entre le béton et l’asphalte,
Et qui ne sauront peut-être jamais
Que la terre était un jardin.
Il y avait un jardin qu’on appelait la terre.
Il brillait au soleil comme un fruit défendu.
Non, ce n’était pas le paradis ou l’enfer
Ni rien de déjà vu ou déjà entendu.
Il y avait un jardin, une maison des arbres,
Avec un lit de mousse pour y faire l’amour
Et un petit ruisseau roulant sans une vague
Venait le rafraîchir et poursuivait son cours.
Il y avait un jardin grand comme une vallée.
On pouvait s’y nourrir à toutes les saisons,
Sur la terre brûlante ou sur l’herbe gelée
Et découvrir des fleurs qui n’avaient pas nom.
Il y avait un jardin qu’on appelait la terre.
Il était assez grand pour des milliers d’enfants.
Il était habité jadis par nos grands-pères
Qui le tenaient eux-mêmes de leurs grands-parents.
Où est-il ce jardin où nous aurions pu naître,
Où nous aurions pu vivre insouciants et nus?
Où est-il ce jardin toutes portes ouvertes,
Que je cherche encore mais que je ne trouve plus?”
“It’s a song for children who are born and who live
between steel and bitumen, between concrete and asphalt,
And who may never know
That the earth was a garden.
There was a garden called the earth.
It shone in the sun like a forbidden fruit.
No it wasn’t heaven or hell
Neither anything already seen or heard.
There was a garden, a tree house,
With a bed of moss to make love
And a little stream rolling without a wave
Come to refresh him and continue his lesson.
There was a garden the size of a valley.
We could eat there all year round,
On the scorching earth or on the frozen grass
And discover flowers that had no name.
There was a garden called the earth.
He was big enough for thousands of children.
It was once inhabited by our grandfathers
Who got it themselves from their grandparents.
Where is this garden where we could have been born,
Where could we have lived carefree and naked?
Where is this garden with all doors open,
That I’m still looking for but can’t find?”