By Kellene Bishop
The Principles of Spiritual and Mental Preparedness (1st and 2nd of the 10 Principles of Preparedness) includes the need for skills and knowledge, but also demands the strength of the mind and spirit necessary to carry us through our challenges of daily life as well as more serious, unusual scenarios. Unfortunately, some of this much needed fortitude that we need is required to endure the consequences of the ignorance of others. Ironically, “preppers” or “homesteaders”, as some may call us, actually have the well-being of their family, friends, and even community members that we don’t even know in mind as we make efforts to take full responsibility for our needs and wants , and yet it is from these very same persons that we receive the brunt of the many verbal or written assaults that we’re subjected to. Sometimes their ignorance is expressed in only mildly painful phrases or actions such as announcing that they’re coming to our house when things get rough while they merrily dance away and spend their money and time enjoying life without a care in the world for tomorrow. Sometimes the opposition to our lifestyle is presented to us in more difficult ways such as the dinner chair that we have at the family gatherings—empty because of the alienation that exists between us and those who think we’re crazy. Sometimes our mental and spiritual fortitude is tested to its very limits at the hands of those who would sling vicious threats or spread lies amidst an internet that harbors anonymous cowards. I feel like we’re not that far from seeing a self-sufficient lifestyle craftily labeled as being associated solely with those who are unpatriotic, psychologically compromised, or domestic terrorists to the point that those who are sworn to protect and serve become an accomplice in the spread of intimidation and threats fueled by such hate-filled ignorance. Clearly, I don’t have to go into gruesome detail in order for most of you who are reading this to understand what I’m talking about here. I suspect that each of you has experienced at one time or another the brunt of any of these types of behaviors in spite of your good intentions to enthusiastically share your excitement of living with more peace of mind. There’s no doubt about it. The opposition against a self-sufficient lifestyle is abundant. So what can we do to prepare and nurture within ourselves so that we have sufficient spiritual and mental fortitude to withstand such opposition? Well, I hope to help you just a little bit with today’s article. Allow me to share a little story with you.
It’s very likely that once you watch this YouTube video of Paul Potts’ initial audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” you are likely to get a bit teary-eyed, perhaps feel some goose bumps, or at the very least feel some semblance of joy in witnessing such a beautiful sound resonate from such an unassuming man—a cellphone salesman who had never sung professionally in his life, let alone to an audience of more than 30 million ! There are more than 200 MILLION views of his various performances on YouTube today! When I first watched the YouTube footage, I was amazed. (I also LOVED the shocked look they show on the face of the cantankerous Simon Cowell as he first hears the beautiful notes that come from this “rather homely looking fella.”) The rest of the story is that this man went on to win “Britain’s Got Talent” that season (2007) and has gone on to tour extensively to sold out crowds all over the world and sell more than 2 millions of copies of the three albums he’s released since then which have gone on to stand at the #1 spot in fifteen countries. He was also honored to perform in a Command Performance for HRH, the Queen of England. An even more amazing feat though is that he’s been able to convert many music lovers to the world of opera who might never have given it a second thought before Paul Potts came along.
While I’ve dabbled in performing an opera song or two in music competitions, I confess that I’ve never really enjoyed anything opera related until I heard Paul Potts sing. But even more impressive than converting me though is the fact Mr. Potts has even managed to convert a rugged Utah cowboy with a flare of Rambo to his music. Yes, it’s true—after I purchased Paul Potts’ first released album, I enthusiastically shared his back-story with my husband. Shortly thereafter my new favorite CD went missing for weeks! I was quite frustrated at not being able to find it. Imagine my surprised when I questioned my hubby about it only to see him sheepishly drop his head and confess that it was out in his pickup truck! (I’m sure the hubster violated several U.S. Redneck and Cowboy regulations in having this class of CD in his truck, by the way.) I couldn’t believe it! Even more astounding was when I caught him whistling “Nessun Dorma” while he was putting the dishes away and folding laundry. (I’ll refrain from expounding on this entire part of the story until later as I’m still trying to decide whether or not aliens have abducted my real husband and replaced him with a slightly modified version.)
Bottom line, this humble presentation of a man was able to influence listeners to venture into the most underappreciated music genre of the past 200 years that the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Mozart, and Deborah Voight could only DREAM of accomplishing. While Paul Potts may never break the record for the most curtain call bows, he certainly holds a prominent place in his ability to endear the listening ear instead of alienating the music lovers of the world who are put off by the typical snobbery and standard string of foreign languages that the world of opera has always been known for. Even though Potts performs many of his songs in the original language it was written in, he’s STILL able to pull in the hearts of audience members by the millions! His fans love and adore him all the more as a result of his simple background, his approachable personality and his enduring and obvious devotion to his wife of 9 years who struggles with polycystic ovarian disease. Paul Potts just continued on singing his song and finally it caught on in a whirlwind style. He describes it as living in a real-life fairy tale. But, as you know, all fairy tales have to include a villain. Paul’s fairy tale is no different.
As soon as the global opera community saw that Paul Potts was not going to hailed simply as “that guy who only won because he was better than the body-piercing gymnast” and seemed to be impossible to ignore, they set out to completely discredit the quality of singing that Paul Potts offered to the world. No matter that Potts was singing the exact same numbers that were presented in Opera Houses all over the world; no matter that none of his critics had ever been as wildly successful in record sales as he was; and no matter that he was the only opera singer to ever be honored personally by the British Prime Minister—they HATED him. Think “hate” might be too strong of a word? Well, let’s have you make that decision for yourself. Here are the exact words used to describe Paul Potts as they were presented by Rupert Christiansen, a long-time seasoned opera critic who writes for the Daily Telegraph.
“I really think,… we’ve hit almost rock bottom with Paul Potts. I’ve listened to about a third of his album and I have to say, I had to switch it off. I really couldn’t bear any more of it. I thought it was very, very, ugly, charmless, characterless singing and it slightly depressed me to think how many copies it had sold. He is NOT an opera singer.
“He looks like a bit of a plonker. I mean he must know that. I suppose that’s part of his appeal, isn’t it?”
“If you put him up before an audition panel at Covent Garden or La Scala, where people know far more about singing than Simon Cowell does, he wouldn’t get past the first round.”
Pretty brutal, huh?
You see, as fabulous as Paul Potts is, and as true as he’s been to himself and his values and beliefs, there will always be those who haven’t yet graduated from high school or even elementary school and who choose to remain willfully ignorant who mistakenly interpret their huge feelings of inadequacies in the face of necessary change as a God-given calling to “set the record straight” so that no other unsuspecting person is led astray. (FYI, willfully ignorant is the nice way of saying “stupid” in the truest sense of the word.) In the case of Mr. Christiansen, he sees himself as a savior for all of operadom, responsible for maintaining the snobbery and alienation of the “little people”, and dog gone it, he’s going to protect those people from being misled by that evil Paul Potts and expose his scam of selling fake opera music. Forget the fact that Paul Potts have finally made people fall in love with opera and has thus made it very popular, since he’s doing it in a way that Mr. Christiansen and many of the highbrow opera performers of today disagree with, he MUST be doing something untoward. *sigh*
Yes, there are those out there who’s main mission in life is to save others from that which is good—who actually believe that they are acting in the interest of all mankind by preventing you from using that coupon which will enable you to get a free 2 ounce bottle of deodorant; or who believe they need to properly label you as a hoarding, fear mongering, gun nut. You’ll get this kind of treatment whether you’re as nice as pie or if you’re more sassy, like me. It doesn’t matter. It’s called opposition and it’s a key ingredient in this whole recipe we call Life. So give it its proper label—“Oh, how are you today Mr. Opposition? Busy day today? Well, I’ll let you get on to your oh, so fulfilling work; See yah!” and get back to doing that which you’re supposed to do.
If you look at the story of Christ when he was tempted, the crux of the devils strategy all along was about challenging Christ in such a way that He questioned who He really was, why He was really here. “If thou be the Christ…” he repeated again and again, trying to get him to question who He really was. The exact same persecution and casting of doubt will be coming at you—and even more of it will come as it becomes more obvious that you were on the right path all along—as you fail to see any progress in the enlightenment of your spouse and other family members and close friends. But if you will invest heavily in your own spiritual and mental fortitude, you will make it through the gauntlet of doubt and despair just fine. Along the way I suspect that YOU will be responsible for making the practice of living more independent and self-sufficient more palatable for someone or many along the way. Just picture what they might look like in your mind. Picture how much your example just might mean to them someday amidst a realistic crisis. Picture the ripple effects that you might be responsible for as well that helps others. Take strength from those pictures and carry on. You can’t MAKE anyone get there, but you can be consistent in delivering YOUR version of the sound of music that you’ve come to love. Don’t question who will or won’t want to listen to it. You probably won’t get the gratitude of the queen for your efforts, but something tells me that you can definitely count on the gratitude of Royalty—the only true Royal—for eternity because of your faithfulness in pursuing a self-sufficient lifestyle.