Strong at Everything, Weak at Nothing, Rick Osbourne

by Daniel · 0 comments

This is a wonderful piece by my friend, Rick Osbourne of

Enjoy, Dan ☺

Strong at Everything, Weak at Nothing!
Reconciling Self Interest and Altruism

I confess, I want to be strong (i.e. independent, self-reliant, resilient)* at everything and weak at nothing. And furthermore I confess that I’ve never met another human being who wants to be weak at anything. In other words, every person I’ve ever known wants to be strong at everything and weak at nothing. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Physically Strong
In my vocabulary, strong is always good, while weak is always bad, regardless of what you’re talking about. For example, I want to be physically strong in order to run fast and far, jump high (tall buildings in a single bound), move quickly from side to side, climb tall mountains, and to rescue damsels in distress.

Mentally Strong
I also want to be strong mentally. I want to be able to read great literature whether it’s the Bible, the Koran, Shakespeare, Milton, Melville, Whitman, Twain, or Faulkner and understand everything I read. I want to be able to handle numbers like a human computer. And I want to be able to appreciate Beethoven, and Billy Joel, Mozart and Mellencamp, and express myself clearly, concisely, insightfully, and in Technicolor when and if the occasion calls for it. Yes, mental strength is a great virtue in my book.

Spiritually, Socially, Emotionally, and Psychologically Strong
I also want to be spiritually, socially, emotionally, and psychologically strong, and there’s absolutely nothing at which I want to be weak. In this sense I, like all humans want to be Superman, Uberman, or God, who is by definition the alpha and the omega, the top and the bottom, the essence of essences, and obviously strong at everything and weak at nothing.

Exponentially Stronger and Stronger
But alas, as an individual human, my strength has limitations. I’m not Superman, Uberman, or God, and I never expect to be. On the other hand I’ve also discovered that when I help someone else become stronger, I can actually feel my own strength increasing.
In fact when one person is helping another become stronger over time, that relationship is generally considered to be unique. In my experience, most people don’t have many of these kinds of relationships in their lives. And when they do have one it stands out as something special and it’s valued highly by both parties. It’s the essence of a genuine teacher-pupil (coach-player) relationship, and the only reason some people stay in the education field at all.
Furthermore, when I help a number of others become stronger, I find that my own strength increases even more significantly. And when those others go out and help others become stronger, my strength increases exponentially. In the midst of such a multi-level pursuit of strength, the very idea of growing stronger becomes contagious, it rubs off on others, and it spreads like a virus, a spark in a bone dry forest.

From Contagious to Radioactive
When enough people are helping enough other people grow stronger in a variety of ways, the entire atmosphere becomes super charged, super contagious, and it evolves into another stage that I like to describe as “Radioactive.” Yes, when a group moves beyond contagiousness and into Radioactiveness, you’ll see a tipping point, a movement (i.e. civil rights, feminism), a miracle. And in the midst of this kind of miraculous experience you’ll come frighteningly close to knowing yourself and God in the most fully human sense.

*The Relativity of Strength
In this essay we’re using the term strength in a relative sense. That is to say, someone who carries a heavy load needs a lot more strength than someone who carries a light load. For example, there are two people capable of doing 10 pull ups. One of them weighs 200 lbs and the other weighs only 100 lbs. Regardless of the fact that the 200 pound fellow needs twice as much brute strength to perform the same 10 pull ups, their relative strength is exactly the same. And if the bigger guy loses 50 pounds of excess weight, his performance and his relative strength will increase significantly even though his brute strength remains unchanged.

**The Purpose of Strength
The purpose of strength in this essay is to underwrite and insure freedom, independence, self reliance, integrity, and dignity of the individual, to avoid him/her ever becoming a burden on others, and to maximize his/her odds of being able to help others grow stronger week after week, month after month, year after year. And it specifically aims to discourage and to undermine privilege or hierarchy of any kind. This is the kind of strength that a democracy is built on.

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