Are we self-reliant?

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The author says security, strength and self-confidence comes from our ability to stand on our own two feet. Picture: RESHIELD.COM

Are we self-reliant is one of the most important, defining, and revealing questions we can ask ourselves. Ultimately we’re on our own.

If we can’t count on ourselves to face and overcome our fears, our lives are going to be a long, hard, painful grind. No one is responsible for us apart from ourselves.

For our happiness. For our sadness. For our fears. No one in this world is responsible for making our lives better and easier.

So the question is – can we count on ourselves? It does not require any special talent, nor an advanced degree to be honest and dependable. But it requires selfawareness, self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The biggest trend over the last few decades is the complete abandonment of self-reliance.

Just a generation or two ago, most people were self-sufficient. Today, we are a nation of people desperate to the government for handouts. We’ve become wimps. Security, strength and selfconfidence comes from one place and it’s the last place most want to look.

It comes from our ability to stand on our own two feet. When we choose dependence on others (just look at all the younger beggars) we weaken our personal power and self-esteem.

We must be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when we need help, and brave enough to ask for it. This is why the Government has programs for small businesses and we see examples of successful Fijians on TV who have benefited from them. .

When the pandemic hit us, tourism had come to a standstill and thousands had lost their jobs. But they became enterprising and learnt to fend for themselves.

Until we count on ourselves, by taking full responsibility for ourselves, we’ll never know just how strong and capable we really are.

Self-reliance is a virtue in need of serious cultivation for one primary reason – freedom from the control of others.

It’s a simple concept that encourages us to be responsible for our own needs. It’s an understanding that nobody owes us anything.

Yet, even though selfreliance is a mandatory condition for success, why is our society filled with so many wimpy, excuse-making, responsibility-dodging people looking for a handout?

The answer can be found in both the government and in the home. Many programs throughout the world have been set up to aid those who are in need.

However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.”

Consequently, the beneficiaries of these handouts more than often become dependent upon them, and rather than inspiring selfreliance, they often accomplish just the opposite.

By providing people with handouts and free money and by eliminating the need for labor and learning from their own mistakes, we are establishing a bad precedent which is virtually impossible.

The biggest trend over the last few decades is the complete abandonment of self-reliance. Just a generation or two ago, most people were self-sufficient.

Today, we are a nation of people desperate to the government for handouts.

We’ve become wimps. – Arvind Mani to reverse as once people get a taste of something for nothing, they want, expect and will demand more of it. Of course, the $200 grant was a huge help for students at the beginning of this school year.

But unnecessary dependence does not help. It only serves to make us weak, insecure and highly vulnerable. It’s the ultimate act of selfbetrayal as we’ll never learn to count on ourselves.

By shielding ourselves from independence, from challenges, failure, unpleasant tasks and adversity, we are, in effect, doing more harm than good.

How do we learn to count on ourselves? How do we become self-reliant? Or how do we take complete control of our lives and our destiny?

We must become our own heroes! No one became selfsufficient from stimulus checks or welfare, no one became healthy from eating junk food.

And no one became successful from being couch potatoes binge watching Netflix and wasting precious time on social media.

Ultimately counting on ourselves is all about choosing ourselves, rescuing ourselves and becoming our own heroes.

Fiji needs strong, courageous, independent thinking people who want to use their creative ideas and unique talents to make a lasting difference.

It needs leaders who can lead, set inspiring examples, demonstrate trust, and make things happen. It needs people with guts, with passion and people who are willing to be shunned and rejected in the pursuit of their goals and dreams.

In the early 1960s, when I was a teenager, I worked during the eight weeks holidays for one pound a week at a printing press in Nadi.

At that time, the tuition was eight pounds a term. I paid my first term fee with it which gave me a better appreciation of the value of education and it felt good to selfreliant. Fast forward 50 years to 2010.

I was 65 and my wife and I came back to Fiji from the US.

Most people think that at this age, we should walk gently into the sunset or rely on our kids to take care of us.

Not me. I lead an active, productive life. I have an office filled with inspiring books.

I have donated several hundred to the Nadi Library over the past several years. I write every day and am continuously working to hone my skills to serve my community better – preparing programs for people to live their best lives.

When my wife and I came back, we were disappointed to see a precipitous decline in the standard of education.

We were passionate and dedicated high school teachers.

And the pathetic state of education bothered us. So we made many progressive suggestions to three ministers of education of the previous government. But our suggestions fell on deaf ears.

Nonetheless, we have persistently and patiently pursued as I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that we can to make a significant contribution for students to grow up to be self-reliant responsible citizens.

And I am encouraged by the direction in which the government of the day is heading. So my plea, dear readers, is that we must stand up, put the remote down, stop tweeting, and challenge ourselves to become self-reliant.

• ARVIND MANI is a former teacher who is passionate about quality education. He lived in the US for 35 years and was actively involved in training youths to improve their speaking skills. The views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper. He can be reached at

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