Monday, March 30, 2015

Our Forgotten Courage

These days, we’re trying to convince ourselves that we’re frail.  Apparently, we are vulnerable once we leave home and go to universities.  For example, there are “safe spots” these days within colleges when “traumatic debates” go on about, say—abortion.  People go to these places to recover while these debates occur.  Any rude comment, if it offends someone, can be traumatic to the offended person.  We can be traumatised if we face any different perspective.  This is true at nearly every university.  The hypothesis is that you need to be brave to come out of Plato’s cave.  Nonsense.  You just need to face the fact that not everyone thinks the way you do and not everyone has had the same experiences you have.  We’re not identical and we simply need to face that fact.  It’s not hard and it’s beautiful once you think about it.  It’s also common sense.  What happened to “The truth shall make you free?”  What happened to “Every experience that doesn't kill you makes you stronger?” 

Let’s see.  I've had several traumatic experiences in my life.  To name a few:  I had an accident that nearly killed me.  I have had several operations because of that.  I went through a surgery where my bones didn't heal and so I had to have another surgery.  I've been called a cripple many times because of it.  My bike’s been hijacked from under me.  I spent the summer before Katrina in bed because of a back surgery and I could barely walk when Katrina nearly destroyed my home city.  Add to that the fact that I simply went through Hurricane Katrina. 

And, of course, I've had my political, religious, and general beliefs challenged many times.  According to this modern theory of my vulnerability, I should be huddled up in a cave somewhere shaking constantly.  Instead, people have often said that I'm one of the most courageous people they've met.  But I'm not truly unique.

Just think about it.  Our grand and great grandparents experienced WWII.  Many of our grandparents were harmed during the war.  Just think about knowing that a mine might be just next to you.  Think about those people who experienced the London Blitz.  Think about those people who had to experience the Holocaust.  Go back a generation or two and you have WWI.  Think about where the saying, “Going back to the trenches” comes from.  Back then, men had to run through No-Man’s Land with the great likelihood they would die.  And think about the women who were nurses or wives and had to say goodbye.  All of these people were just your next-door neighbours.  So far, I'm a coward compared to them.

The whole of humanity has created unimaginable atrocities throughout history.  But the flip side of the coin is that we fought these catastrophes.  We've weathered them.  We've had guts that reach out of the Milky Way.

If we've convinced ourselves that we’re cowards that might not affect you and me.  If we get under attack we might find our guts like our ancestors did.  However, if our leaders have also been convinced that they are weaklings, that will influence how they fight back.  And because they’re not under direct attack like we are, their strategies will be weak.

We don’t like the world that’s emerging these days.  We might say that we’re not under danger like we were seventy or one hundred years ago.  We in the U.S. and Europe have some of the strongest militaries there are.  That doesn't matter. We don’t know what the world will be like twenty to thirty years from now when we millennials are in charge of the world.  We don’t know how the world will be once our children are in charge.  Therefore, if we convince ourselves that we are weaklings, that will affect us for generations.  Our leaders and our nations will become weaklings. 

But we are strong.  And so the hypothesis that we are incredibly weak and vulnerable needs to go.