There is no easy way around it. Compassion-istas are out and toughness will have to be in. Why? Because our time is just screaming for toughness. Too many are folding, too many caving in, far too many bowled over, snowed under, and generally overwhelmed. Trouble: weakness, softness, flimsiness. Moreover, we have no idea what sort of future we are going to face, but that future, we can be sure, will require more of us than we have given so far.
Here, then, is an interesting thought on method with regard to toughness training: to learn what toughness is, begin by gathering together physico-ethical descriptions of a tough experience. Consider, for example these parings:
- John backs down whereas Jane stands firm.
- Tom faces up to things whereas Terry turns away from things.
- Mark puts his whole weight into the endeavor, yet Mary grows slack.
Next, once you’ve come up with a fairy exhaustive list of physico-ethical descriptions of tough experience, then begin to group them and categorize them.
Next, take those categorizes and treat them as modes of toughness. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there are really only five modes in which any human being can be tough.
Lastly, think seriously about how these modes can be trained. Would one begin by providing a physical training and then go onto ethical training? As if to say: first learn how to actually stand firm, then deliberate upon ethical cases in which the right thing to do is to stand firm in the face of fear, then start role-playing acting rightly, and finally act rightly in real life. Is that how the training would go? Or would some other approach to training be more appropriate and, more importantly, yield better results?