““Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And weak men create hard times.”
I was born a son and a grandson “hard men.” They farmed, led businesses, shaped land, and raised families through good times and bad, and if their stories are any indication, they worked like dogs to do it.
Because of them I grew up in a comfortable home on well-kept farmland. I got to play computer games and watch satellite TV in times when my grandfather or father would have had to pick crops or pull weeds. And while I had my share of experiences doing farm work, the demands on my life were nothing like those of previous generations. I had it easy.
That’s what makes me wonder if I have what it takes to create better times for my own kids. My times were good, and there have been times in my life when I let those good times make me a weaker man.
My father and grandfather worked too damn hard to see my generation fail the test. But to pass it I’ll need to experience as much hardness as possible – since I’ve got a lot to catch up on.
Hard times like the Great Depression or a world war (my grandfather’s generation) or farm economic crises and fickle weather (my father’s generation) feel further away than ever now. We’ve done what we could to insulate ourselves from them. Now I have to do what I can to create them.
I can choose to work more hours. I can choose to start a business (with all its attendant challenges). I can choose to live modestly. I can choose to throw myself into new environments. I can choose to face down difficult tasks and difficult choices. All of these things will look different than they looked for the men before me, but they will require and generate the same character formation.
Some of these I have begun to do – others wait for me to get up the gumption. But I’m dead set to become one of the hard men who create good times.