I know some tough people. They come from different backgrounds and different circumstances. One thing they have in common is a lack of interest in anyone’s awareness of their toughness. They know that toughness is earned through physical and/or emotional endeavors and, therefore, a personal matter.
They are humbled by the process. They are the ones who often do things that most of us could not / would not, like stare down insurmountable odds or stand up for someone in need of assistance. They understand that physical pain is an emotion and that emotional pain is far more excruciating.
Tough people don’t act tough or talk tough. It can’t be bought and it can’t be faked. Though some people try, through shallow rhetoric rooted in insult and shame and threat; but tough people know these people are pretenders – those who never curled a fist or taken a punch or had to handle personal devastation, chronic injustice, or overwhelming obstacles.
They are the first ones to run when the shit goes down and the first ones to complain when things don’t go their way. They are liars and cheaters and indifferent to the lives of others. They point fingers when their plans go wrong and take credit that is not deserved. To them, toughness is about projection not practice. In public life, we see so much more of the wannabes than the genuine article.
It’s amazing how mankind, again and again, falls for the act of the tough talker. That privileged poser who makes false promises while preaching to the choir, who can’t take criticism and lashes out wildly in defense of their own thin skin. Whose mechanism isn’t engagement but destruction of all threats. And it’s a disgrace how often they prevail.
Societies have forever fallen for the image instead of the actuality. So many are so impressed by the fake tough that we overlook the qualities that the genuinely tough exhibit in the examples of their lives and the courage of their convictions.
We need to demand more walk than talk from those who seek our support. We need more show and less tell.