STRENGTH

Strength is one of the most essential elements of human character. Strength, however, consists of three classifications; physical, mental and moral, and undue emphasis should never be laid upon physical strength alone. It is important that bodily health be given vital consideration, but if a man’s mental and moral equipment has been developed, it matters little as to his size, weight, or muscular development.

Mental strength is important and can be of great benefit to the individual and to humanity if exercised properly, but in order that this quality should be used in the proper manner it is necessary that moral strength support and protect the mind. The quotation, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong,” is merely another way of saying that the race is practically always to the swift and the battle practically always to the strong. Therefore, we must consider strength as one of the qualifications necessary to achieve victory in the battle of life. Life and the battle for success, as well as happiness, is a continual and never ending struggle. The weak can never hope to achieve victory except by the method of making themselves strong.

However, much depends on the point of view of the individual in regard to the battle of life. If the individual considers this battle as one of real war where every man’s hand is arrayed against him, and where the aim of his competitors is his destruction or death, then he is continually beset by fear and is subject to despair and humiliating defeat. If on the other hand he can visualize life as a game to be played under the rules of fair play and good sportsmanship, and where even the loser has the thrill and enjoyment of playing the game and can always come back and enjoy another opportunity to win a victory, then he is continually encouraged and comforted by his own viewpoint on life, and regardless of his many defeats and disappointments can gradually develop his strength and ability until his ultimate victory is certain and substantial.

Just as in big league baseball, every man cannot be on the championship team and win outstanding success, but practically all of them can be on teams that win a substantial number of games played and are therefore victorious to that extent. Even the who are on the bench for an entire season have the opportunity to put themselves in condition so that the following year they can be among the active players and do their part in achieving as many victories as possible during the season. It is discouraging and devitalizing to a man’s character and is an outstanding evidence of mental and moral weakness to assume the attitude that his fellow men are bent upon his destruction and humiliation. It may be true that his competitors are fighting for an advantage over him, sometimes an undue advantage, but he does not necessarily need to regard them as enemies on that account.

Competitive sports of all kinds are one of the outstanding activities in America, but among these competitors it is rare to find any actual enemies. They fight hard to achieve victory which means defeating their opponents, but there is no rancor or bitterness involved, and sometimes the loser, if he puts up an excellent fight, receives almost as much recognition and appreciation as the winner. It is the quality of the battle that really counts, and if a player is on his toes and always doing his level best, he not only will be given proper recognition, but will in due time become a victor himself. A quitter is always regarded as a coward, providing of course that his objective is worthwhile, and this is the general opinion held by the average individual, regardless of all the excuses and alibis that are made for the weak by the over-sentimental individuals who seem to believe that rewards should be given to those who need them, rather than to those who are worthy of them. Sometimes it seems that more strength is necessary to combat the misguided efforts of those who are supposedly interested in the welfare of the people, than is needed for any other purpose whatever.

In this connection it should be thoroughly understood that everybody in life has to make good in one way or another, and that the rewards of life should be given to those who make good and not to those who fail to make good. While it is true that in this age of civilization we should allow no one to starve, or freeze to death, it is also true that we are under an equal obligation to see that those who are helped in times of distress should be compelled, if physically able, to do a sufficient amount of work to compensate for the help that is given them. It is even more vitally our obligation to see that those who desire work in order to make good in a larger way, should have this opportunity available, not only for work, but for as much work and as efficient work as they are capable of performing. While it is true that individuals should not be allowed to work regularly sufficiently long hours to damage their health, it is equally true that they should not be compelled to work sufficiently short hours to curtail their income and their advancement.

It takes mental and moral strength to accept these fundamental principles and to act upon them in view of the conditions prevailing at the present time. There are millions of individuals out of work, and the maximum hope and expectation of the most optimistic of our people is to see that most of these individuals secure jobs of some kind, reasonably soon. This is by no means sufficient and should never be accepted as a solution of this problem, and it would be an evidence of national weakness to do so. Work is the only means by which the average man can make a living, but we must not fail to remember that it is also the only means by which a man can increase his standard of living. A small number of individuals are able to increase their standard of living through the means of promotions due to increased knowledge and efficiency, but the average man’s only hope for an increased standard of living lies in more opportunity for work and the increased purchasing power of his income. This increased purchasing power must come from a gradual and continuous reduction of the cost of production and distribution of the articles which he buys. This is another essential fact that we must be strong enough to recognize and act upon. In the meantime, the average man’s only hope of an increased standard of living is to be allowed to work longer and to thereby have the opportunity of making a larger income.

Union labor has right and justice on their side in their endeavor to establish minimum working hours for occupations at a standard wage, but they are hopelessly in the wrong in endeavoring to limit the number of hours that the man actually works. The standard wage should cover a certain number of hours, and this should be true of all employees in all lines, but the worker should be allowed to work longer hours, not inconsistent with his health, at the same rate of pay, so that he could make a larger income, if he so desires. There should be a standard of efficiency in work, but those who could accomplish more within a given time should be allowed to do so, and should receive extra pay therefor. To endeavor to limit all men to a certain standard of hours of actual work and of efficiency, is to take away from their individuality and ability. If a man can do more or better work than another, he should be paid accordingly, but the standards have to be set in order that this would automatically occur.

We must have the still further mental and moral strength to accept the obligation of seeing that no individuals except those who are mentally and physically incapable are ever allowed to become dependent, either upon the State or upon their relatives. If a man is capable of working he should work regardless of his necessity to do so, and it must be understood that the number of individuals who are actually incapable of performing sufficient work to pay for their upkeep and comfort is practically negligible and not even worthy of consideration. We must have the strength as a nation and as individuals to accept these obligations and to proceed accordingly. There is plenty of work to do and the one thing that is necessary is to use common sense in establishing the means by which this work can be provided and then to allocate it properly.

So far as the individual is concerned, physical strength should be regarded as important, but not absolutely vital. Our conception of strength, however, in this connection, should be ability to resist and overcome physical afflictions and ailments, and to really enjoy life from a physical standpoint. Bulging muscles and a strong back are of very little value if a person’s heart, lungs or stomach are not in good condition, and our robust and husky college athletes can be over-trained and overdeveloped so that they are particularly subject to pneumonia and heart disease. A pale anemic individual who bends over a desk all day long may possibly report for duty practically every day of a rather long life. The real test of physical strength is whether you are able to keep permanently on the job for which you are responsible and do reasonably efficient work at all times. A man does not need any more physical strength than this, but to stay on the job permanently and regularly except for short vacations and an occasional rest period is a rather large order in itself. Of course certain occupations require more physical strength than other occupations, but the essential problem is for a man to find the work that he really enjoys doing. In short, everything possible should be done individually and collectively to keep ourselves in good physical condition, and to enable us-to enjoy certain physical activities which we particularly like to engage in, but this should be done casually and automatically, just as we  bathe or shave, and we should not continually be worrying about the condition of our health. Always remember that worry is not only an evidence of weakness, but that it always breeds far more troubles than those troubles over which we worry. Most of the things that we worry about are things that pertain to the future and a large majority of them never actually happen, so that most of our worry is absolutely useless and it also tends to make us unfit to meet the situations that actually do arise.

This does not mean, however, that we should ourselves do nothing about the circumstances and conditions that cause worry. If any troublesome situation arises, either in the present or in prospect for the future, we should first do all that is humanly possible to correct or remedy the situation, or to meet it properly, and then dismiss from our minds the worry and the bother connected therewith. Weak individuals usually worry about the future because they have not the strength of character to do anything about it, and they prefer worrying to corrective action. The strong man is usually so busily engaged in trying to correct troublesome conditions or situations, that he has not the slightest time to sit down and worry about the situation itself. It is true that many problems have to be thought, out and this may involve physical inactivity, but it presupposes an exceptional mental activity in planning what to do physically. The strong man sincerely asks the question of himself, “What am I to do?” and then proceeds to sincerely answer the question. The weak man uses the same words, but as an evidence of despair, and with no real intention of trying to solve his problems.

Physical and mental activities are closely related, for it must be our brain that tells us what physical acts to perform and what words to say. Speech is a physical activity but the words that we speak or write must come from the brain. For instance, we may think of a very excellent reason why our banker should lend us a certain sum of money for expansion of business. The action may be sound economically and favorable to profits, but we must physically speak the words, sign the papers, and perform our regular duties in the business to accomplish the actual result. In fact, thought, speech and action are so closely related that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between them in point of priority, but it is always important to remember that thought should always come first and that speech and action should follow their orderly processes.

Mental strength consists largely in determining the wise thing to do, but it is often necessary that moral strength be brought into play to first determine the right thing to do, for unless a thing is right it cannot possibly be wise. Physical strength may be used for evil purposes just as well as good ones. Even mental strength has often been perverted for unworthy aims and ambitions, but moral strength is the savior of civilization and of mankind. These three elements of strength, therefore, should be used always in conjunction with each other. Moral strength should determine what is right, mental strength should determine what is wise, and our physical ability should be used for the accomplishment of these worthwhile purposes.

Weakness has brought more disaster and suffering to the world than any other one failing of humanity, but it has almost always been moral weakness that was the principal cause of our afflictions. Strength has brought most of the good that has come in to the world, but unquestionably it has been the element of moral strength that has brought about the really beneficial and desirable progress of the human race.

Be strong, therefore, in all things, but let your physical actions wait first upon a considered decision as to what is right, second as to what is wise, in following out the right course of conduct. In this way we will not only do what we should in the way that it should be done, but we will be strong and self reliant citizens of a strong and glorious country.

H. B. MONJAR  – September, 1935