To be strong?
A good friend of mine told me in a comment that “I don’t have to be strong all the time.” I have had other people tell me that in the past as well. It got me to thinking…
I have thought about it all day actually. I tried to analyze this statement from an objective view point. I asked myself questions like; what would happen if I wasn’t strong all the time? What does it mean exactly; to be strong? Is the opposite of strong weakness, or merely a lack of strength?
To get to the bottom of it, I have to define what it means “to be strong”. There is the physical aspect obviously; possessing pure physical strength and the willingness to use it. I have always been physically strong, more a result of great genetics than anything else. But, what if I didn’t have those genetics? What then?
Hmmm…well, then I suppose I would still consider myself strong if I was being as physically strong as I was able to, even if I wasn’t strong in comparison to someone else.
The other aspect of being strong is strength of character, it is much more vague and harder to quantify than physical strength. I see this as being like a pillar for others, always being stable, not losing control emotionally, treating others well, not being easily swayed, being confident, being true to your own conscience, and also having the strength to admit when you are wrong. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.
It is conceivable that a person could be strong in one of these aspects but not in the other. I think it is also true that a human could be strong one day, or most of the time, but then have a day when they are not strong.
Is it better to be strong, than to not be strong? I would say yes, it is better to be strong.
What would happen if I was not strong all time? Being a human, I have had moments when I was not strong; it is rather difficult to admit though. There were times when I was sick and weak, or grief stricken, or like when I was in that bad accident when I was 16, or the one time I lied to my father.
Nothing happened; I got over whatever it was and went back to being strong. However, if I stopped trying to be strong that would be a different story…then, I really wouldn’t be me anymore; I would be someone else.
That brings us back to my friend’s original statement that I don’t have to be strong all the time. After careful deliberation I agree partly, and disagree partly with her.
I agree that if a moment comes when I am not strong, that it will be OK, for a minute. But I also feel as a man, that I have an obligation to “try” to be strong all the time, in all ways. I feel it is a duty that comes with manhood. I must at least try, and be as strong as I can. I may not always succeed, that’s OK. The obligation of a man is in the honest trying, and when he fails…to try harder.
I’m speaking about being a man, not to leave women out of the conversation. I am not a woman though; I can only answer this question from my experience as a man. Perhaps women have the same obligation, perhaps not. Perhaps women are strong in ways that men cannot conceive of?
Here is what I suspect though; the obligation of a man to be strong is perfectly matched with the obligation of a woman to be all the magical, wonderful things that make her a woman.
My final answer then: Yes, I do have to be strong all the time. I have an obligation to be as strong as I can in both body and character. My obligation is to all the other humans around me, because my strength might help them. It is to my ancestors, to honor their legacy, and to those who will come after me, because if I am being as strong as I can in all ways…surely their life will be improved somehow because of it.
To be strong, and to have the opportunity…the privilege to share that strength, is one of the best parts of being a man in this life.