“But you will come to a place
where the only thing you feel
Are loaded guns in your face
And you'll have to deal with
--- Billy Joel
Sometimes, I lapse into a hard-assed phase of thinking, where I get intolerant of weakness. I lose patience when people wallow in victimhood and self pity, who end up in a puddle of their own urine and tears, wailing “Woe is me!”
When I was younger, and a lot less wise, I would often lead with that part of my personality. I would wear my scars like badges of honor, as if by surviving them, I gained toughness.
To be honest, that’s true. I did gain toughness, resiliency, and the ability and willingness to stand toe to toe with life and throw haymakers. I was proud of having come through the Shakespearean Tempest, the gully washer of a rainstorm that the first 25 years of my life were.
Still proud today, to be honest. I just don’t stick my chin out brazenly and lead with it like I used to. Maybe I got tired of that chin being smacked. Wisdom comes in many forms. Even retreat sometimes.
But I listened to the above song this morning, and all that ‘in your face’, ‘I ain’t afraid of nothing’ mentality came flooding back.
And I liked it. It felt good.
I pride myself on being able to feel, and write things that not only make others cry, but make me cry.
I also pride myself on being a tough motherfucker (big grin…spell-check skipped right on past this word! was all set to gleefully "add to dictionary".). I can’t fathom, short of death, anything that could take me down to the point where I couldn’t get back up.
I still look for this trait in others. I used to look ONLY for this trait. Now I need kindness, sensitivity, empathy, warmth, and yes, love.
But one of the measuring sticks I use (and mostly keep to myself), is whether or not I want a person beside me in the foxhole, back to back, firing weapons in a rotating line of fire like Brad and Angelina in Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
“Now here you are with your faith
and your Peter Pan advice
you have no scars on your face
and you cannot handle PRESSURE!”
Let’s be honest, unless you are Ghandi or Mother Teresa, strength is more attractive than weakness. It can even be an aphrodisiac. This is partly why I am concerned for the past generation or two of young folks. Are we breeding a generation of pussies? Kids who will run from the inevitable fight that life will challenge them to?
We’ve removed the concepts of winning and losing from some of our younger children’s activities, including sports. Makes me throw up in my mouth. Life is EXACTLY about winning and losing. You learn from both results. The concept of consequences should never be taken off the table for young people.
We’ve taken to not failing kids if they do, indeed, fail. Self-esteem has been deemed by the far left liberal intelligencia as something that can be ordained, handed out like a sweater.
The concept of meritocracy has taken a beating. The idea to make kids EARN what they get has been cheapened. Replaced by a poisonous sense of entitlement. They have done the very dangerous morph from ‘earn’ to ‘I deserve’.
I’m trying not to paint with a really wide swath of my brush here. I know there are young kids, teenagers on up through mid twenties, that are impressive, and would wear quite well in my foxhole. I have a 16 year old great niece who I would want feeding my belt of bullets into my machine gun. Tough, smart, not afraid, pragmatic and cute. She keeps my hopes up.
“I'm sure you'll have some cosmic rationale
But here you are in the ninth
Two men out and three men on
nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to
But I see enough sources of genuine disappointment out there that concern me.