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Good Times Make Weak Men

Hard times make strong men. Strong men make good times. Good times make weak men. Weak men make hard times.

Which is why I'm of the position that strict parenting, hard work and minimal pleasures should be enshrined as principles. Embracing hard-ship itself should be a prcinple. But you can't create artificial hard-ship. You have to find what things are necessary in life and then tackle them, rather than looking for excuses to fail.

Some basic things can help extract character: getting up for Fajr on time, being good to parents, insisting on manners, memorizing Quran, studying hard at school and learning fiqh and practicing it. If a person does this, many poisonous luxuries will end up being displaced, like playing video games until 3am. Not going to happen if you're serious about Fajr. Lounging around all day Saturday: not going to happen if you want to do good at school. Etc. It's about displacement.

I noticed something: entitled kids have parents that constantly focus on methods of education and types of schooling. They're the ones in the movies that are always calling for a meeting when they're kid gets a bad grade. They over-think the wrong thing, and the product tends to be less than impressive. In contrast, the immigrant kids that are crushing it in the Ivy Leagues throw their kid in the nearest building that qualifies as a school and then focus on work ethic at home and on the weekends and in the summer. They eschew pleasures and grind away. Result: success.

Ibn Khaldun went deeper and found that failing generations indulged in creamy sauces in their food and constantly had new recipes, whereas their more succuessful parents were simpler in this regard. Their day to day routine was predictable and so they got incrementally better at what they did. Entertainment was relegated to about an hour at the end of every day, as a break. The Arabs called this "tasammur," and ulama said it was sunna to do with one's family after Isha.

There has to be a healthy balance, but what are we defining as the extremes? That's the real question. There are extremes, and then there are examples that are so bad, we can't even allow them into the equation; they would skew the whole equation.

Then there are two challenges. First is boredom. You have to fight it. Second is success. When it actually works, the rewards present themselves to you like temptations. You actually have to resist much of it. Once you start indulging, you’re on the way down.


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