I’ve been debating myself back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to do something for the Pagan Values Blog project month thingamajig. I refrained thus far because most of my values, which I consider stemming from my faith, are in polar opposition to many other bloggers. For instance, I find the notion of “tolerance” abhorrent. Tolerance says “I don’t like what you’re doing, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” It is, in essence, an abdication of social and spiritual responsibility towards one’s values. While there is something to say for choosing the war over the battle, it still irks me. For that reason, I wanted to talk about the most important value I can think of: Strength.
Strength is something everyone needs to survive, whether it is strength of body, mind, or will. An absence of strength in any of these categories can prove fatal, and if you can’t compensate for weakness in any one area, you’re already dead, and just don’t know it. Without strength, there is no recovery, no healing, no growing. Let’s look at what happens when the strength leaves the individual in these three areas, and then look at the same for society.
Physical Strength and the Individual
If you live in America, you’ve probably noticed the obesity epidemic. It’s so endemic that it is invading our schools, and seeing a seven year-old weighing 80-100 pounds is actually becoming more and more common. On top of this, children in American schools are getting less and less time allotted to recess and physical education. With all those calories and no time to burn them, the individual American is getting fatter while allowing his muscles to atrophy.
This weakness that we indulge in makes us far less likely to survive accidents, from simple falls to catastrophic automobile collisions. What happens if tomorrow a hurricane knocked your house down on you? Could you realistically attempt to help yourself, or others? What about your heart? Is it strong enough to get you down the block without becoming winded?
Physical Strength and Society
There is a problem in today’s US military. It’s the same problem that faces a lot of Americans: lack of physical fitness and an excess of calories. Strength is essential in combat. Strength is also essential on the home front. You eggs or sperm carry with it your same weaknesses, as well as your strengths. While you of course can not control the baby you get (although we’re coming really close to this), don’t you want to give your children a better chance? Physical fitness is also important in the workplace. many jobs require at least light physical labor, even in white-collar or service positions. Many jobs, especially skilled labor and manufacturing, require even greater strength and endurance, and as the US grows bigger, the fewer skilled jobs requiring fit individuals are being made available.
Mental Strength and the Individual.
Judging mental strength is difficult. Some cultures put emphasis on fact memorization. Others stress problem solving and critical thinking. For many, lacking mental strength is devastating, especially if maintaining knowledge is key to your job security. Technology has become a crutch for many. Could you write an error-free essay, right now, on a current event? Do you even know what is going on in the world? Your country? Your community? Many young people, while being considered brighter than the generation before them, lack basic knowledge about current events and world cultures.
Mental Strength and Society
Much of the mental weakness in society is caused by an abdication, not lack, of strength. Apathy is the great poison, here. Ask a person about any subject and you’re as likely to get “who cares?” as any other answer. Mental strength is acquired the same way any other form of strength is acquired, by exercise, but to do so takes time and patience. With the advent of instantly retrievable information, many feel there is no need to keep such information stored in the greatest, fastest computer available: the human brain. If we are ambivalent towards knowledge, then we all suffer.
Strength of Will and the Individual
In my opinion, this is the greatest, most troubling form of weakness a person can display. Do you feel comfortable making decisions? Do you make your own decisions. Millions get by everyday by repeating this mantra in their heads: it’s not my problem, I don’t have to do it. Millions also choose to relinquish their will over to chemical substances like alcohol or opiates or recreational drugs. Again, apathy is a major player here.
Strength of Will and Society
What happens when a society loses its strength of will? We can never be quite sure, because you never usually hear of those societies. Even those that succumb to a stronger will are often remembered. It is why we have our religion today. Imagine the world if none dared pit their will against Hitler or Rome. What would the world be like if we all just stopped and said “I think we’re good, we needn’t learn anything else anymore”? Or what if we all just gave into our vices that “aren’t hurting anybody else”?
Now that I’ve significantly pissed off/created a depressed neurosis in everyone, I wanted to tell you one more thing. Strength is possible. Weak is something you choose to be, which means you can choose to be strong instead. It’s also okay to fail. You will never know your limit, or push it higher, if you never attempt to. Failure helps us find that limit and push ourselves further. The only true evil, the ultimate weakness if you will, is apathy. Fight inertia and then use it. Never stop improving. Never give up.
Ares is a god of strength. Ares also fails. A lot. He also never gives up. Be one of the Areistai, one of his own.