Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?

David Livingstone's birthplace. The National Trust
Blantyre
Dr. Livingstone’s birthplace in Blantyre

“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”

Dr. David Livingstone

Words hold power by generating an emotional response.   For me, the word “resilience” has become one of my favourites; whenever it comes up in my readings and conversations, my thoughts become engaged on positive outcomes.  Defined as the capacity to recover rapidly from difficult and complex situation, resilience helps us overcome adversity, adapt to loss, even embrace challenges. Resilience is acquired over a lifetime, and comes from being connected within a supportive and compassionate community.  One of the factors that strengthens and builds resilience is helping others and looking for ways to better the world.

Spinning Machine
Spinning Machine

Children who worked in the cotton mills and coal mines  suffered neglect and abuse; many died. But despite the grim circumstances, there was evidence of resilience and courage.

Dr. David Livingstone embodies the attributes of resilience.   His birth was recorded on March 19, 1813, in the mill town of Blantyre, Scotland. His parents, Neil and Agnes Livingstone lived in a tenement building that housed cotton mill workers. At the age of 10, David entered the H. Monteith’s Blantyre cotton mill factory, working twelve-hour days as a “piecer.”  His task was to tie broken cotton threads on large spinning machines called spinning mules.  The breaks occurred frequently which required nimble fingers to repair the thread without any let-up on the machine.

David spent sixteen years in the Blantyre cotton mile to sustain his impoverished family.  Even though he was promoted to the position of a spinner, the work was gruelling and monotonous.  But it was those years that focused his efforts on moving forward in life.  Every day he learned endurance, tenacity, and empathy for those who laboured with him.  At 26, he left the cotton mills and went on to attain the legendary status of national hero.  His titles were many: explorer, botanist, social reformer, anti-slavery crusader to name a few.   Those years in the cotton mill were well-spent for they fostered a need and compassion within him to pursue a worthy goal.

 “I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose.”

Dr. David Livingstone

 

Blantyre
David Livingstone’s birthplace which is run by The National Trust