The Daily Stoic for June 13th. “Life Is A Battlefield”.
“Don’t you know life is like a military campaign? One must serve on watch, another in reconnaissance, another on the front line. . . . So it is for us—each person’s life is a kind of battle, and a long and varied one too. You must keep watch like a soldier and do everything commanded. . . . You have been stationed in a key post, not some lowly place, and not for a short time but for life.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.24.31–36
For some years now, we’ve witnessed the promotion of averageness and mediocrity in education. In schools, high schools and even in college.
Competitiveness has been demonized. Apparently, if you give a prize to a kid for winning a competition, you are traumatizing the rest of kids for life. The solution? Give them all “participation prizes”, so nobody gets discriminated. Everybody’s happy, right?
Life Is A Battlefield
Well, when I grew up, you certainly had contests. No “participation” prize. If you wanted a medal or trophy, you had to earn it. At school, I was a smart guy, but physically mediocre. I worked hard to get my prizes both in intellectual challenges and on physical ones. Why? Because it was a challenge for me, and the prize was just a symbol that served as a reward for my hard work.
As I mentioned, being a slim, weak kid, I never won anything in gymnastics or any other physical discipline. And know what? I am not traumatized! I even kept on trying it!
However, right now generations of children are being told that “participating” is all that matters, that working hard, and devoting effort to something is not important. Why bothering if you will receive a prize like everybody else, just for showing up with your hands inside your pockets?
In my opinion, it’s dangerous to educate our children in that philosophy.
Because life is fucking hard. Life is a battlefield, indeed. We are thousands of millions of humans out there (that’s billions if you happen to be American). And we live in an era of progressive automation, AI, and digitalization of services, tasks, and jobs.
We need to teach our children to be competitive. Because when they get out there to get a job, there’s no “consolation” or “participation” prize. They need to be realistic and know that nobody is going to give them a job just because they showed up at the interview.
That’s not only limited to our jobs. Life is hard out there. Life’s a battlefield, and we need to fight every single day of our lives. It’s time we get real and realize this.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Life Is A Battlefield”, serves as a much-needed reality check in today’s society of triumphant averageness and participation prizes. We need to work hard every day of our lives.