Being tough is seldom spoken of as an admired personal quality. Yet to accomplish anything worthwhile being tough and disciplined is extremely important.
To become tougher you must grow personally. Toughness as a positive quality is not an inherited trait. Yes, there are insensitive and naturally tough brutes, but they are rarely helpful to others.
In my view those who have the perfect personality are kind and sensitive, yet if the situation demands it they can be tough as nails. The insensitive brute will never develop kindness and sensitivity, but a kind and sensitive individual through discipline and effort over time can develop a spine of steel. One becomes tough only by having toughing experiences. This principle is in nature. The trunk of an oak growing on the rocky side of a mountain with little water is much tougher than the trunk of a banana tree growing in the fertile soil of a tropical rainforest. One develops calluses on the bottom of one’s feet by walking or running, not by sitting on one’s behind.
Toughening experiences can be of many types. Most are of the nature of financial, family, medical, or business. It might be the indignity of always being short of money in a society that judges each of us all too often on that resource. Or it could be a divorce, difficult children, medical problems, or a death in the family. Or it could be life-threatening illnesses or the continuing disabilities which made both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Charles Krauthammer quite tough. Or it could be running a small business with the always difficult problems of cash flow, product quality, dependable and productive employees, and where the temptation to cut corners to increase profits or to even survive is always present. The more of these experiences one has over a longer period of time the tougher that person will become. Which is why, all else being equal, someone older is usually tougher. Their years of life if lived aggressively have generally allowed them to have more toughening experiences.
Among our toughest citizens are our legal immigrants. Because of their hardscrabble backgrounds, they are a blessing to America. In my residential construction business, I have used the same excellent Vietnamese tile setter for twenty years. He is often the go-to person for work in Houston’s elite River Oaks. He was a boat person who had to shoot his way out of Vietnam. And then while on the high seas his boat was attacked by the prevalent pirates. But he tells me with a grin: “we had more guns than they did.” Today his children, no surprise, are top performers in college.
Yet toughness can be trained. And it should start early. Good parents and religious schools do it wisely by gradually giving young children more difficult experiences as they develop. But there is a problem is with our public schools and universities. Although they focus on developing minds - and yes the body, with required physical education - little thought is given to the student’s emotional development. Instead, they do the opposite.
Universities shun conservative professors, bar conservative speakers from campus, allow optional exams, concern themselves with a student’s self-esteem, and create 'safe spaces' where these students may go to avoid being offended.
When political correctness prevalent everywhere today is added to that with Democrats screaming “racist” at every drop of the hat, America has a problem. The PC culture damages each and every one of us because it assumes that we are too weak to handle being offended. Before PC it was otherwise. Black Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley in his book False Black Power chronicles how black businesses were outperforming those owned by whites prior to passage of the necessary but incorrectly administered Civil Rights Act. They were unquestionably very, very tough until they were advised by the government how weak they were. Had government policies allowed the strength they had to blossom instead of placing it under government control America would be in a much better place today.
America has survived for hundreds of years because every fifty years or so it has gone through a difficulty which has toughened up its citizens. Whether it was a money panic, wars, or a depression, Americans adapted and endured. Since no major difficulty has been shared by Americans for some time - particularly without a military draft - many Americans have become soft. Millennials growing up have only experienced Obama and Democrats' indulgent attitude on everything. This has deprived them of the normal toughening experiences of life.
It is my fervent hope that President Trump and his base of overwhelmingly tough, loyal, and patriotic voters can toughen us up with improved values and common sense. Otherwise, America is dangerously due for another disaster.