On June 6th, 1944 America lead the largest land-sea invasion in history to storm the beaches of Normandy in France and take back Europe from Hitler and the unstoppable Nazi war machine.
Young men 15, 16, 17, too young to fight, but lied about their ages to defend their country crammed 36 at a time into rickety Higgins boats made of wood and metal to fight an uphill battle against seasoned Nazi war-veterans who had blitzkrieged across Europe and had violently brought Europe to it’s knees.
The young men were scared, some would vomit before the front door of the Higgins boat would open and display the beach of death ahead. Their guns were wrapped in plastic to keep the gunpowder dry so they could still swim through the water and onto dry land and fire a bullet when the time came.
Some of the boats exploded on water-mines before reaching the shore, killing the young men inside, some boats were riddled with machine gun fire before landing tearing up the young men into a bloody box of death. Other boats would be strafed by Nazi planes while the bullets pierced through their bodies and sunk the boat drowning them inside. Some boats would reach the shore in which scores and scores of young men were mutilated by Nazi machine gun fire.
Still, the young Allied men had to press on, they had to move forward, they had to storm the beaches and kill their enemies or they knew that eventually the Nazi’s would storm their Allied beaches and kill them. It was “us” or “them”. 209,000 Allied men died that day taking the beach, they didn’t stop when their best friend was gunned down. They didn’t stop when the rest of the platoon was lit on fire by a flamethrower. They didn’t stop when their boat couldn’t land and they had to swim to shore, they stopped at nothing less than victory.
I read a short poem online, and it read:
Hard times create strong men,
Strong men create good times,
Good times create weak men,
Weak men create hard times.
– G. Michael Hopf
The poem struck me as I read it. As though it were mana from the mouth of God or divine truth. Truth lasts throughout history, truth lasts the test of time. Lies and deceit fall away, but the truth, truth always remains.
This poem represents the circle of life, the cycles of history—what goes up, must come down. The rise and fall of empires, the rise and fall of men, the rise and fall of power which eventually gives way to weakness. The words are visceral, you can feel them in your guts, and even just the phrase “Hard Times Create Strong Men” appeals to anyone and everyone who has ever faced a hard time and had to be strong.
Unfortunately, as I write these words, I believe that we are living in the “weak men create hard times” part of the cycle.
“A nation is born a stoic and dies an epicurean.”
Strength and success are born out of stoic values.
The Stoics elaborated a detailed taxonomy of virtue, dividing virtue into four main types: wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation.
To have wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation is to be strong enough where one will defer his or her own happiness and pleasure for virtue.
To the stoics, virtue was more important than happiness in life.
In contrast, Epicurean values stem from Epicurus. He believed that what he called “pleasure” was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one’s desires. This would lead one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear as well as an absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states constitutes happiness in its highest form… Epicureanism is a form of hedonism – Source Wikipedia
When pleasure, personal happiness, limited desire, modest living, knowledge without action, tranquility, absence of bodily pain, and hedonism take over, a weak man is born.
As a millennial, I can say that my generation is certainly Epicurean in nature. We are indeed living in a time of weak men who create hard times.
Today’s young man between 20 and 30 years old drowns in pleasure through video games and pornography. He will not have a serious or real relationship with a woman to make a family or bear children until late in life, or perhaps ever. Our birth rates are down, and costs of living are high, so traditional families are in decline. Today’s young man puts his personal happiness first, above all else. He has limited desire and ambition and, in effect, must live modestly. He is the most educated that a young man has ever been in history, but he takes little action to use his education to reach his potential in life. He has an absence of bodily pain, and we now have “safe spaces” and “cry spaces” on campuses to validate our generation’s weak emotional fortitude.
“He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see.”
― Ayn Rand
My grandmother’s generation (born in 1920s) lived through the Great Depression, fought in World War II, built a house and a family, and went on to be one of the most successful, virtuous, happy, and wealthy generations in history.
Men of 18 years of age stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in World War II with bullets flying past their faces. These men brutally killed Nazis in close quarters combat with rifles, pistols, bayonets, shovels, helmets and sometimes with their bare hands in the name of service and freedom to their families. In contrast, today’s 18-year-old kids need “cry spaces” because their feelings are hurt.
Where did all the strong men go?
“We don’t have a great war in our generation, or a great depression, but we do, we have a great war of the spirit. We have a great revolution against the culture. The great depression is our lives. We have a spiritual depression.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
I’m not saying all millennials are weak. To be weak is to choose to be weak. There are strong millennials out there who go against the grain and work harder than ever to ignore the pleasures and distractions of modern life.
You determine your level of strength and your own level of greatness.
I am sad to say that we live in a time of weak men, and we will plunge into a very dark, very hard time ahead of us.
This dark time of hardship will galvanize men and women to become strong, like my grandmother became strong living through the Depression and World War II, while other weak men and women simply won’t survive.
Strength and greatness are choices; do not be tempted by pleasure and the distractions of weak men and women.
If you want to be strong, it is time to rise up, this is your time to seize everything you have ever wanted. Such rampant weakness has created a huge gap in the market for you to fill, but it can only be filled by strength.