There’s a sobering quote by an author named Michael Hopf: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
That’s brilliantly said, and startlingly true.
The wheels of history are soaked blood red with this reality, because what I think we humans fail to remember is just how hard and often fatal the hard times are. Lots of people die. Tyrants rise up and rule. Hard times. And it’s a painful lesson we have to keep learning over and over.
Sadly our generation has had its good times–better times than any other generation in history–and, unfortunately, I think we are the weakest people who have ever walked on planet earth. The weaker the men the worse the times to come are.
Here’s what I think is happening to the people, especially the men, of our time:
- We’ve become little kings.
- Courage has died and we don’t mourn her.
- We are chocolate soldiers.
- It’s all your fault.
Let me explain what I mean.
We Have All Become Little Kings
My wife and I recently visited some of the castles in England where centuries of kings lived. These were the rulers of an empire, at times the most powerful empire in the world, and yet they had poor sanitation, relieved themselves in chamber pots, rarely had running water (or hot showers) and had very little access to good medical care.
They sweated it out in the summer, froze in the winter, had low life expectancies and no ibuprofen for what must have been considerable aches and pains. Compared to these people 500-600 years ago, today we all live like little kings–even our poorest population.
Even the poorest of us live in greater comfort and luxury than any of the emperors of old. We can step into vehicles that can transport us in a few hours to places that used to require journeys of weeks or even months–and with people dying along the way. That same journey now is just a casual day trip.
We can sit in a seat and fly through the sky anywhere in the world while people serve us. We’ve got ice and drinks on demand, a refrigerator stocked full of food, the best entertainment at our fingertips, and vast amounts of information in our pockets.
We live like royalty. We’ve all become little monarchs. Little kings.
Courage Has Died and We Don’t Mourn Her
Here’s a universal truth: A man in possession of kingly comforts must be in want of more comfort. Comfort does not, however, produce courage–it kills courage. Instead of rising to the occasion, we fall asleep. This is why in our society courage has died, and we don’t seem to care.
By contrast, throughout human history being courageous was the highest of virtues, and to call someone a coward might result in a duel to the death. Now, though, instead of celebrating courage we uphold victimhood as the greatest good. In fact, everyone seems to be competing for who can be seen as the greatest victim.
The philosophy that propagates this is called “intersectionality.” In this mindset, a person’s race, gender, socioeconomic status and sexuality really define who they are with a group identity. And the more of these groups you belong to, the greater levels of moral superiority you have.
So for instance, if you are a Christian white male, then you just need to keep your mouth shut. But if your identity is an “intersection” of various victimized groups (non-white, gay, trans, etc.), then you wield supreme moral authority, and the rest of us have become your evil oppressors.
This super upside down way of thinking is directly opposed to the dream of people like Martin Luther King, Jr., that our kids wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
We should be evaluated as individuals. Am I a good person–loving, giving and generous? You don’t get a pass just because you belong to a minority group.
The net result of intersectionality is that we have killed courage, and no one mourns it. We don’t mourn it because we didn’t know it was dead. Why? Because we’ve redefined it. Suddenly we’ve awakened to a world where the greatest victims are the most courageous of us all.
By the way, a man identifying as a woman is not courage. It’s insanity. But…everyone gets their courage trophy and then melts in the sun.
We Are Becoming Chocolate Soldiers
Chocolate soldiers. I stole this term from a dude named CT Studd, who was calling people out because they appeared courageous but would melt away when the slightest amount of heat was applied to them.
Today we like to imagine that we’re all fierce and strong-willed, but that’s because we’re not fighting the real battles. We’re offended by everything. Cat in the Hat. MAGA hats. Old statues and parks.
Inconvenient facts about history. The number of genders. The police. Guns and the Second Amendment. Karl Marx. BLM. Elections. Kung Flu. Israel. Abortion. And a thousand other triggers.
We can’t speak openly about anything anymore or we get canceled and maligned. You can’t even talk about the weather anymore because that topic falls under the unmentionable subject of climate change.
Truly courageous societies and individuals should be able to have a conflict of ideas, disagree strongly and still be united under the common cause of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We used to be able to talk and even disagree about the things that really mattered. Now we can’t even disagree about the things that don’t really matter. Everyone needs a safe space. We are all so pathetically weak and triggered, just delicate, little snowflakes, all of us. Everyone’s just made of glass walking around and if you just broach the subject that I’m not ready for, I’ll either get angry or I’ll excommunicate you.
I get called racist all the time, and yet I worship a brown middle Eastern man as God. Words like “racist,” “Nazi” and “oppressor” have all but lost their meaning. Instead of using these powerful words to actually communicate something of value, they’re used like an air conditioning switch–get a little uncomfortable with someone’s idea and you can just make that heat go away with a little name calling. Anyway…
Everything is Your Fault
I love Jordan Peterson and his book 12 Rules for Life because it does a masterful job of taking Peterson’s profound knowledge of psychology and distilling it all down into practical, foundational pieces of wisdom. One word of advice he provides is to clean up your room. “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
We’re tragically in the age of non accountability. We’d rather sue somebody else, blame somebody else, complain, go all capsule lock on Facebook, decry everyone else as the villain, when we’re really just conveniently changing the subject so we don’t have to really deal with our own stuff.
This natural human instinct, especially among toddlers and teenagers, has rooted itself deeply as a hallmark of our culture.
Our laziness, our apathy, our cowardice, our insecurities, our frivolity, our inability to really invest in loving those people around us. And at some point we need to start taking some type of accountability–otherwise we’ll continue destroy our culture and ourselves. We need to get the planks out of our eyes and embrace this truth–my biggest problem is actually me. It’s not the society, the system or some group of people. It’s me.
On the other hand, when I start to take responsibility for myself, things around me change, too. If I were to come alive and be better than I am now–if I were to become a more loving man, a more generous man, a stronger man in all the different ways that strength entails–all the people around me would probably grow a little, too.
I think hidden in people out there is still that yearning for personal responsibility and gritty, strong will and bravery and courage and to be able to stand for something greater than ourselves. I think that’s still buried in our souls. Though right now it is suppressed, it can’t be eradicated. I think it’s time to really just throw that off and to be able to stand tall again and recognize though culture may be getting very weak, now it’s time for me to be strong one small decision, one small change at a time.
And that’s how we change the world.