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On Strength

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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13 Comments
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Strength comes in many forms, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It defines a person, a team, a culture, a nation. We know when we see it, and we revere it, if centered. It is not an accident. A nation can lose it, as can a person. A nation can regain it, as can a person. For survival, we must look for it, work at it, regain it, and then teach it. We can, me and you. America needs that of us.

Where are the examples? All around us. We should look to those who live strength, now and before. They teach tenacity, risk-taking, patience, persistence, self-discipline, and consistency. They teach how to jump for the limb, fall, get up, return to climbing, fear not, and succeed.

Examples of strength – all kinds – appear in lots of places, sports, military, law enforcement, business, parenting, politics, and day-to-day life, but strength appears most in adversity. In lives of others, as in our own, we love to see strength. Strength is about being your best you.  

So, how do we do that? When a challenge is physical, attitudinal, emotional, or lies in another realm, financial, spiritual, academic, exhaustion from the madness, missing inspiration, creeping ambivalence, we must shake it off. The shake-off is the start, taking action.

On a personal level, the gritty Arnold Schwarzenegger, rags to riches story, said: “When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Like his big screen alter ego, Sylvestor Stallone, another rags to riches, it is in how many punches you can take. Not quitting is what makes you strong.

Nationally, John F. Kennedy nailed it: “If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.” Words would not have saved his shipmates on PT 109.

Strength can be born of simple encouragement. In my youth, kids were pushed outdoors, so we biked, rambled the woods, played pick-up, went fishing, explored the dump, and got home for dinner.

What did we learn? Independence, decision-making, accountability, responsibility, what to do and not do, risk-taking, how to get injured and not care, freedom to fail, resilience – strength.

While only a few are good athletes, and not me, we all played outdoors, got exhausted, recovered, stumbled, fumbled, and got back up, stronger for the experience.  

Tom Brady said a week ago: “To be successful at anything, the truth is you don’t have to be special. You just have to be what most people aren’t: consistent, determined, and willing to work for it.” We got that message growing up, because it was taught by example.

Even in 1985, a child played outside 30 hours a week, 1,560 hours a year. Today, they play outside maybe five hours a week, 250 hours a year – not the same. Texting is not a sport.

Strength comes in many flavors, often reinforcing each other, tenacity, patience, selflessness, daring dreams, choosing the steep trail, the hard over easy, right over wrong, now versus later.

As Rosa Parks remarked, strength of another sort, like modern parents at school board meetings or defenders of life: “You must never be fearful about what you are doing…when it’s right.”

Therein lies strength of the moral kind, taught in the Old Testament and New, from Christianity to Marcus Aurelius to J.R.R. Tolkien. “Look well into yourself…,” wrote Aurelius, a stoic Roman, “…for there is a source of strength which will always spring up, if you will always look there.” So, we must dare to look there, do what we can, in so doing that teach: It can be done.

Whimsically, Tolkien – the artful creator of Gandolf and Shadow-fax, Bilbo Baggins, and Frodo, observed: “It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.” How true, and no wonder that he forever counted C.S. Lewis his friend, author of Narnia.

To me, strength begins with daring to identify big goals, anticipating some, inheriting others, striving to do what we should, not sure if we can, summoning courage. With that sort of conviction, relentless focus, hope and prayer, we often find we are there.

Beyond the likes of Tom Brady, sportsmen and women model the idea, Riley Gaines, Caitlin Clark, distance runners, aspiring Olympians. Look back, Jesse Owens, John Landy, Cal Ripken, and the inimitable Lou Gehrig. They all teach, or taught by living strength.

One of the best ballplayers, Gehrig was humble, a powerhouse who died young at 37, from the disease that now bears his name. He never gave up, never made excuses, never looked back, and loved life. He radiated strength start to finish. So, we all have our examples…

Not performing as he wished, benching himself, he spoke to a full stadium. “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” That was 85 years ago, yet we still remember.

Bottom line: Strength, of all kinds, is learned – by those who want it, work for it, appreciate it. We must do that daily. Why? Because we know how. And doing, we teach it too, me and you.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.   

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PaulE
PaulE
19 days ago

Nice motivational article to kick off the week. Wonder how many will read it and realize they need to demonstrate that outlook in their day-to-day actions themselves. Rather than simply choosing to wait for someone else to swoop in and save them from their own inaction? There’s always that faint flicker of hope that people will finally demonstrate the courage and determination that they need to conquer adversity.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
19 days ago

To have an outlook on life that involves the thought of doing the best we can, with what we have, for as long as we can.– I do believe is a true expression of strength The last sentence in the article involves setting a good example ,by doing things that require strength, that is very much in the spirit of the parable of Christ about the lamp ,– the light from the lamp symbolizing doing what is morally right.Strengh. should start to be developed in our youth — it is good that you mentioned the situation with amount of time kids spend indoors instead of being outdoors. And that is an indicator of something way out of balance. Being outside and learning about trees , the way the weather changes, learning about our physical limitations, either through sports or climbing trees, observing things in nature , animal ways and activity, interaction with others , like in making things or doing something to help with the upkeep of the house. That Lou Gehrig quote – very appropriate. This Constitutional Republic,the United States of America will always need good people ,good citizens who have Strength, Courage , Wisdom and Understanding to keep the principles that hold the Nation together operating properly Very good article Robert . In the spirit of Truth with respect for Liberty.

Max
Max
19 days ago

RBC, enjoyable article. Thank you.

Kim
Kim
18 days ago

Thanks, RBC, for the reminder that we can do it ourselves. When presented with a challenge, I tell myself it’s not if I can do it, but how I will do it. Whether it’s a small construction project, replacing a faucet, giving a speech, or digging a garden, each time we succeed at something, we feel emboldened to move on to the next challenge. It builds confidence, self-reliance.
For a decade, I mentored teenagers at risk at an alternative school. A hundred times, when a student played the “Woe is me” card, I reminded him or her that we can overcome any adversity. For several of them, recounting some of the trauma I endured as a child convinced them that they, too, can draw on their inner strength and get on with life. If a crisis doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger and helps us set healthy goals for our future.
I worry about our country’s future. We’ve become accustomed to hiring someone to do all the little–and big–things we won’t try to do ourselves. Younger generations grew up in the glare of a screen, blinding them to the responsibilities of independent living. As a society, this attitude sets us up for relying on government to finance our lives, to protect us from the tiniest offenses, to demand recognition for every nuance of our personality (such as the ridiculous pronoun preference phenomenon). Many want to be cared for cradle to grave; we’re becoming a navel-gazing nation. It’s no wonder most of the young vote for democrats, who promise “relief” from all those annoying obligations.

anna hubert
anna hubert
19 days ago

Strength unfortunately like honor or the truth became a dirty word Everybody is a winner and gets the medal In school sports or anywhere else If you can’t make it on strength simply declare yourself a female and you’ll stand on the podium Strength is the last thing the dems want They need dependency and helplessness so they can come to the rescue

David Millikan
David Millikan
18 days ago

Excellent article. On another note, Gasoline will be $4 a gallon next month thanks to Dictator Beijing biden which also means Food will be even far higher than it is now.

Secret Service agents rush Donald Trump off the stage.(AP: Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden greets President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California.(Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)
President Joe Biden speaks on the phone with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to discuss his approval of a FEMA disaster declaration in response to the impacts of Hurricane Beryl, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

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