When we think of rugged individualism, we might think of men like John Wayne in old-time Westerns or we might think of places like Fort Worth, Texas, where the idea of rugged individualism was a way of life for the cowboys who lived there. What has happened to the American psyche? Why has the idea of rugged individualism, a strong mind, and a noble character become unfashionable? Today our politicians whine about how bad things are because the very infrastructure of the country that built the first modern transcontinental railroads in the world is crumbling faster than we can raise the money to put it all together again.
Today, we seldom think of the fictional courage of John Wayne or the real life mental strength of the hardcore men who drove cattle in the state of Texas. John Wayne has faded into a parody of the cheesy plot lines of early Westerns and while Fort Worth is still called a cow-town by tourists and locals, it’s best known as a place where Hispanic and Latino youth habitually abuse illicit drugs. Here is how Greenhouse, an AAC facility, describes Fort Worth:
“The rate at which this demographic abuses illicit drugs is high, especially among youths — Fort Worth’s most at-risk demographic. Between 2008 and 2011, past-year rates of illicit drug use among Hispanic and Latino teens rose by 20 percent, with marijuana use alone rising by 25 percent and ecstasy use by 36 percent.”
What America needs to be great again is not more disingenuous promises of reform made from political platforms or more media spin about how certain nations, ethnic groups, or religious persuasions are out to get us. What it needs is mental strength, rugged individualism, backbone, and character.
How important is it to be mentally strong in the face of disaster? How should you as a prepper overcome the things that hold you back like addiction and mental illness? What does it take to build your character before you hit a crisis? These are questions we seldom ask ourselves. If there should be an economic meltdown tomorrow because the national debt is $19.3 trillion and European Banks are in deep trouble, it is a collective return to character building alone that will help us maintain morale in a crisis.
Mental toughness can’t simply be defined as machismo, which is more an act than an actuality. It’s much more complex, perhaps a combination of courage, confidence, and commitment.
Courage – No one is born courageous. It’s not a gene some of us inherit and that others miss out on. Instead, it’s a learned behavior. Courage is taking proactive action despite shaking in our boots. Courage is the assumption of inner strength from facing the reality of difficult circumstances before you. It’s about reaching within even when the situation seems hopeless.
A well-known image of courage comes from Shakespeare’s King Henry V. When the young English king was addressing his small army of knights and archers to stand up against the overwhelming number of heavily armored, battle-seasoned French knights at the battle of Agincourt, he advised them to “Imitate the tiger: Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.”
When you are courageous, you don’t run and you don’t hide. Instead, you face the situation without panic because you believe you can do what needs to be done as soon as possible. When you are courageous, you realize that waiting will only make the situation worse, that now is the best time to take action, and that you are the best person to resolve the pressing calamity. Although you still feel fear, you don’t let it stop you. Instead, you use it to strengthen your resolve. You don’t crumble in the face of obstacles, but feel resolute in the face of a challenge.
Confidence – Confidence does not come naturally to us. Throughout our lives, we have been criticized far more often than encouraged. This is why confidence is more like a muscle than an innate tendency. We build confidence by taking small steps in the right direction. Small steps may seem trivial at the time you do them, but they will help you make incremental improvements. Small steps lead to small successes. These tiny victories build up, slowly creating a permanent change in your self-appraisal.
Building confidence doesn’t happen as a giant leap of faith in yourself, it happens in small steps. These small steps are tangible. These small steps are like each sure-footed ascent up a steep mountain. Each small step eradicates a chunk of self-doubt while each act of courage and commitment eradicates a piece of irrational trepidation. It’s wise to celebrate each step to lock it into your memory.
Commitment – Without commitment, nothing happens; with it, anything is possible. Enough said.
If America is to save itself from chaos, it has to stop listening to talking heads who merely express canned political agendas. Instead, it has to reach back into its deep past to a time when courage, confidence, and commitment were a way of life. You as leaders in your family and community will be forced to take action one day. To step out of your comfort zone and act. No one knows now the time, place or situation you will be faced with, but we are all pretty much assured that day is coming. Are you ready?
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