Like many towns, Enterprise, Alabama, has a prominent monument, but it is unlike any other. The statue doesn’t recognize a leading citizen; it celebrates the work of a beetle. In the early 1900s, the boll weevil made its way from Mexico to the southern US. Within a few years, it had destroyed entire crops of cotton, the primary source of revenue. In desperation, farmers started growing another crop – peanuts. Realizing they had been dependent on one crop for too long, they credited the beetle with forcing them to diversify, which led to increased prosperity.
The boll weevil is an example of something that comes into our lives and destroys what we have worked hard to accomplish. It can bring devastating results - sometimes financial, emotional or physical, all of which can cause fear. We witness the end of life as we know it. But as the people of Enterprise learned, the loss of what is old is an opportunity to discover something new. Hardships can be a way of getting us to give up bad habits or learn new talents. Our thorn in the flesh can stop us from striving to preserve old habits that are no longer effective.
From a safety perspective, have we become comfortable with mediocre performance that once used to be viewed as excellent? When forced into a job change, can we branch out to do even better with the new opportunity and challenges before us? When dealing with the injured, can we help them to discover a new life that fits within their new personal realities?
We can view every hardship as an opportunity to cultivate a new virtue in us. Bitter experiences can help make us better.