Excess of strength is the only proof of strength.
We must strive, fight, and harden ourselves, continuously improve and overcome, to outstrip and outpace our rivals. We must brace ourselves, proud and resilient, against risk – and even welcome loss when justified – because even in a wound there is the power to heal. It is a first-principle from the military school of life:
What does not kill me makes me stronger.
As warriors we expose our weakness happily, welcome vulnerability, fail often, delighted, and inspect, adapt, evolve, and innovate – hard and fast. We make pain our truth, we make learning our competitive strategy, we make ourselves immune to the setbacks that ruin the weak around us. In the face of tragedy the warrior in our soul celebrates, and even honors life as the most worth adversary we will ever face; because, more consistently than any other rival, “life” brings its most formidable weapons against us. Every artist needs his torture, even more the disrupter and creator of values.
The warrior-champion is born out of, and evermore accustomed to, suffering, and extols his existence by means of tragedy and hardship, because he knows the value of a thing often lies not in what one attains with it, but in what one pays for it; what it truly costs him. Liberated by perseverance, gritting our teeth against pain and loss, war becomes a training in freedom – after all, what is freedom?
Freedom is the will to self-responsibility.
Freedom is a state of spirit; that one embodies the will to self-responsibility. That one preserves the distance that divides us, even in an embrace. That one is ready to sacrifice men to one’s cause, oneself not excepted. Freedom means that the instincts that delight in war and victory within us have gained mastery over all other instincts. The truly free man is a creator, destroying the past and disrupting the present, a warrior constantly overcoming resistance, five steps from becoming a tyrant while standing on the threshold of servitude. He combats the tyranny of the pitiless, dreadful instincts with maximum authority and discipline toward himself. After all, what is strength?
Strength is the will to self-discipline.
It is great danger, our thorough and deliberate exposure to risk, and winning against it, that makes us deserving of reverence. It is only the real danger of losing everything that first teaches us to know our resources, our virtues, our shield and spear, our very spirit; it is danger that compels us to be strong. Thus the first-principle:
One must need strength; otherwise one will never have it.
The strongest among us, champions respected throughout history, have felt precisely this way – freedom is something a man attains but can never own, something one always pursues, something for which we must fight, a state one continuously conquers.
Stay strong, rise to the fight!
– An adaptation, extension, paraphrasing from the works of Friedrich Neitzsche
Photo Attribution: Rob Weir‘s photo of “Atlas (1937) Statue” by Lee Lawrie, Rockefeller Center, NYC