Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tough but Tender Men

Is it just me or are we becoming--on a mental, physical and moral level--soft and pudgy? I wonder what degree of fortitude we possess. Let's face it; most of us have it pretty cushy. I don't have to walk anywhere. I seldom have to lift anything heavy; the last thing I raised was my rabbits when I was seven years old. If I were to undergo persecution or some level of ongoing attack I question how much physical stamina I have to draw upon. Am I turning into the Pillsbury Doughboy version of mental toughness? As a society I feel we've got the espirit de corps of a colony of tree sloths.

I need to become tough without getting hardened. I need to develop internal toughness/fortitude without being a bad ass. I want to be like Rambo or The Rock or Steven Seagal in toughness but like Jesus in character. Jesus was mentally tough but loving and compassionate; Rambo and the boys are just tough. Jesus was the personification of love yet, like the t-shirt says, he "didn't tap out."

I see a lot of boys becoming men who are one of two extremes. A lot of men have embraced their "sensitive" side and display gentleness and compassion, but I get the sense they'd choke under any sustained pressure. And then there are the bad boys who'd loved to choke you with sustained pressure.

Does it have to be either/or? I refuse to believe so. I still hope to cultivate fortitude while nurturing a compassionate heart. Physical stamina, mental toughness, and a tender heart. That's a picture that inspires me.


Bongo said...

As a mom raising sons I know what I would like to see them become..I want them to have a compassionate heart..I want them to be physically be witty and smart...tough when they have to be...cry when they need to..and to show that to others...but I also see the male (most) influences around them..and the message they deliver be tough..don't strong...knock em have a balance in that would be ideal...Society imposes quite a bit of pressure on men(women too)'s my hope that my sons will bring their hearts and minds together..That's a picture that inspires me..

Zach said...

Thought-provoking post, Steve. I think I might have to write a blog post of my own on the subject...I have too many thoughts to fit into a comment here.

One thing I will post, though, is this quote by Calvin Coolidge (a president I know very little about, but I like this quote):

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is
more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

I think that toughness boils down to persistence, particularly persistence through adversity.

Zach said...

Ok Steve, I wrote a response to this on my blog:

Anonymous said...

People do what they want to do. It's really that simple. I am fat and I should exercise and eat less, well give up Dr Pepper is more like it but I don't. I don't want to more than I want to. I am extremely physically strong but I don't think that has anything at all to do with how I think and live. And, yes, we live in a pudgy super-sized society now. Not good overall.