Our passions and differences go a long way towards defining who we are and what we’re capable of – they are they very foundation of personal strength, and that is something that we need to remind one another of. This is why I’m sick of the idea that strength is about tearing people down for their passions, differences, or definitions. That doesn’t do anything other than promote insipid acts of cruelty that spiral down into self loathing for everyone involved.
And let us be clear: cruelty isn’t strength, it’s a base reaction to feelings of powerlessness. It doesn’t solve anything or make anyone better – all it does is undermine and destroy, it only distracts from that sense of powerlessness. Strength builds people and makes them stronger, not by masking weakness or pointing out the weaknesses of others but by helping one another to eliminate those weaknesses we see in ourselves altogether. Strength does not mock weakness; strength celebrates strength.
Hurting someone else for the purposes of feeling strong is an illusion with no basis in strength; all cruelty does is prove the weakness of the cruel – the hurt, insecurity, fear, and ignorance that has been allowed to fester and needs to tear down others to mask those mental and emotional scars.
Indulging in cruelty is not a fucking acceptable way to behave. We can do better than casual cruelty, we can cultivate, nurture, grow… but in order to do so we need a definition of what it is to be strong. I think the one provided above works, but let’s go into a little more detail about that definition and where it comes from.
Right now, I’m hard at work right now on the third Mercedes book; the second draft of the second book is currently being edited. I mention this because the idea of strength came up in it a lot, what it means to be strong and to use that strength in the world. How does one prove strength, my characters ask me? Its required a lot of thought on my part, a lot of reading and walking and considering…
Historically, it’s the ability to lift things up that have defined progress and, therefore, strength. History is about motion and moving forward, creating new ways to live and new ideas to understand the world that we live in. Destruction for the sake of destruction betrays a weakness of character, a fear of evolution, an inability to understand the world as it moves forward, and those caught in the trap of that fear are always left behind eventually.
Why even bother entertaining that fear, then? If one is defining oneself on negatives, one has to go through the process of inverting those negatives in order to give the self any kind of beneficial outlook; that’s exhausting and counter-intuitive. How much easier to define one’s actions as positive by having them be positive, by cultivating passion and cultivation itself?
Or, more simply, it is much easier to be happy in a world where the people around you are happy than it is to be happy in a world where the people around you are miserable. Listen to others, respect their information, their experiences and views and passions. Live an epic life, and make those around you more epic in the process.
With this understanding, strength becomes a creative process, the ability to build new things and experiences, to make the world itself more complex and varied, more full of wonder and whimsy and passion.
Growth and creativity are qualities to maintain and cultivate, despite what Industrial Age doctrine would have you believe. The old paradigm has invested a lot in the idea of there being an instinctive lizard-brain fear of the unknown. This is a feigned sense of things are as good as they’re going to get right now and that change might upset the status quo, even if that change might be good.
However, the lizard-brain defaults to much more courageous feeling than we like to think, because it is, at its core, about evolution, exploration, and discovery. The lizard-brain is what drove our ancestors to leave the oceans, to explore the trees, to climb every mountain we could find and spread out everywhere.
So, there is no reason for people to lash out at creative growth. Why tear at something that is objectively good for everyone, the way the American Government tried to do with SOPA and PIPA, and is now trying to do with CISPA? All it does is slow that growth down and rob us of some of the best minds our world has to offer. It’s nothing more than a symptom of Industrial Age fear, the instilled paranoia of a dying paradigm. That sort of thing isn’t strength, that’s casual cruelty, thoughtless destruction. It has no place in the world we are moving into.
Strength lies in the ability to create and foster the creative abilities of others. It is the choice and power to protect, to understand, to respect other people and their experiences and to accept that they are as true as those experienced by a sole self.
It is about wanting to help other people find their definitions of happiness, and helping them to achieve that definition while holding to your own.
The right path is my path; the right path is your path. Both, and at the same time. I wrote those words when I was younger and trying to figure things out; I’m a little older now but still trying to make sense of this world and my place in it. I tend to look back at those words, though, and use them as a guide.
Just because I’m right doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or vice-versa – it just means that our experiences are different, and so long as we’re creating does it matter what drives that creative process, or what form that creative process takes? I don’t think so. I think we need to accept our differences, to cultivate and appreciate the passions that drive us to craft our strangely beautiful works.
This is what strength is.
And, so, the question must be asked: how strong can you be?