Of Strength and Strong Men

“The strongest man is he, who, while sensitive to abuse, will yet restrain passion and forgive his enemies.” – Messages to Young People

I think it is in the heart of every boy and man to be a strong man.  One who has the potential to perform great feats and to be a hero; to be respected and revered for his strength.  One to whom peers look to with respect and reverence.

In our day we have seen a lot of people try to take shortcuts to becoming strong.  In weightlifting and baseball, the strong men are/were those that took anabolic steroids and other substances to increase their strength to perform better.  Endurance sports has also been tainted with those who use blood doping, and cycling has still not recovered from those scandals.

Those who have cheated in order to gain strength find that this road is a bitter one, and successes will always have an asterisk, even if the process was known only to themselves.

But this is beside the point.

True strength isn’t muscular, or a strong emotional reaction to a situation.  Rather, it is the power of will and of self-control.  The power over self is the greatest strength that can exist, and is found in all the great men of history.

Strength is realizing that when a wrong is performed against the self, one does not react in selfishness or passion, and for that matter without a stoic indifference also, but acknowledges the abuse and takes the higher road of forgiveness.  A rash response is oftentimes easier for us.  It takes great strength to acknowledge a hurt and to forgive, rather than to hurt back.

Not hurting others in response to received hurts, and forgiving, is the evidence that one truly is a strong man.

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