Has society become soft? Maybe it’s just “global warming” thawing us all out like butter in a microwave, but there are vast differences between now and a century or so ago. Long gone are the days when a kid who fell and scraped their knee was encouraged to brush it off and keep going. Today, a parent is more likely to overreact, teaching the child this superficial “boo-boo” is indeed a big deal and needs medical attention — an emergency room visit, a tetanus shot, etc. That’s where this epidemic starts. Toughness, courage and the ability to dig down deep are now mythological character traits of the past.
Our forefathers were tough — enough so to willingly leave their home country for something they believed in, to stand up to an overbearing government to the point of war and to endure extreme discomfort in a foreign, unforgiving land. In an environment such as this, you could not be anything but tough or you wouldn’t survive. Similarly, when land-seekers trekked west in the 1800s, they had to hold their own against hostile natives, wild animals and the elements.
Yet another example is found in Sir Ernest Shackleton, who in 1914 made an expedition into the Antarctic in which almost everything went wrong. Despite being stranded nearly two years in dire conditions (the average temperature at the South Pole, the Endurance expedition’s original destination, is -80° F), each of the 27 team members survived. This was extremely rare, considering they were visiting a place littered with dead bodies from previous expeditions. With the excellent guidance of their leader, these men survived because they were able to put “mind over matter” and power through a bad situation. The influence of willpower and attitude should never be underestimated.
We can also see from Ford’s former marketing slogan “Built Ford Tough” that Americans, and people in general, tend to pride themselves on being tough and gritty. It’s in our genes after all! No one ever boasted about how weak or wimpy they are. Yet I find myself more than ever hearing people rant about how miserable their day was or how they’re a victim in this or that class or how so-and-so took advantage of them. Maybe they think they sound tough because they had to endure all four hours of class that day (poor souls), or work through a club event, but they really just sound a little pathetic. It’s almost as if it’s a competition of who has it the worst or who deserves our sympathy the most.
If that’s what our society has been reduced to, then that’s just sad. In this pampered, mollycoddled, microwave society in which we are babied and spoiled, we must take great care that we do not fall into this “wimp trap.” We need to get back to that tough, “we can do it” mindset that used to drive this country. Any great endeavor or innovation would have been a mere failure without it. Besides, going through trying situations builds character; something people could afford to have more of these days. So the next time you’re faced with the decision of wallowing in self-pity or bearing through it, make the right choice. Save mankind from our wimpy selves.
Michelle Adams is a junior at Oklahoma Christian University