You seem to be assuming that I'm for the overtly nurturing side of things. I'm not. My preference is a dose of reality, but without putting too much stress too early. Mediocrity is only achieved if the person devalues elements of their life due to too little, or too much pain. A life of absolute ease is not preferable to one of absolute pain, nor the reverse. A competitive spirit does not make good people, nor does a lethargic one. Your stated assumption that competition would create better people is faulty. If that were so, we should all subscribe to a military regime and say that anyone who enters and graduates from that form of training is bound to be a good person.
But it's not true.
I see your point, but then we should reach an agreement on what we mean by good. I mean, if we are talking about good, as in one who cares about others, one who acts morally and is bound to ethical values, then I agree being a highly competitive person, extremely disciplined, etc is no guarantee of making one a good person - although we should not assume it is a guarantee of being a bad person either.
But when I think about the advantages of such values, I don't in regards of making one good or evil, but in very many different aspects.
For one, as I said before, I think instilling discipline and competitive spirit into children since they are young, ensues stronger willed people in the future; better prepared to face the world; tougher individuals with more resistance to loss and with the ability to overcome hardships.
Secondly, I think such people are more prone to assume responsability for their own acts, have a higher sense of personal duty and a better idea of how to be a truly autonomous person.
Of course that all does not come with a competition alone. That's why people should be accustomed to bear the ill fruits of their bad actions since the beginning; that's why they should be taught discipline since ever. I think that all combined would only bring lots of benefits to any person.
Plus, I think in the military team work is viewed in a higher regard than individual competition.
You made the comparison to a gym, to sweating and feeling pain. What good is the pain if it pulls the muscle, or worse? Then all your strenuous effort will be for naught. What's more is, that sort of pain is utterly voluntary. You go to the gym because you ought to, not because it is mandatory. Education is a whole other matter.
Well, I am one of those crazy fuckers who really like to have it the hard way in the gym, to feel pain and feel exausted and extenuate at the end of a lifting session. Not because I am a masochist of sorts, but because I do believe things that come of easily go away even more easily. There is no redemption without effort, there is no results without determination, self sacrifice and a strong will; the whole NO PAIN NO GAIN mote.
Not because pain is nice, but because you should be able to sustain pain if you are serious about something.
Sure, going to a gym is a highly personal thing, no one is forced to, but that was not my point. I mean, I take it seriously, it's a life style you know, always passing out at the gym - not literally - having your body hurting daily, always following a strict diet, not drinking, skiping parties because you are too tired, or because you need to rest for the next session, among many annoyances. But why do I do it? Because I feel it pays off, I see my determination and self sacrifice being recompensed at the end. It's not only about getting big, but the whole process behind it.
But why I am saying all that? Because I see absurd things daily. I already said I agree with you that going to the gym is a voluntary thing, but we have to assume one who goes to it either wants to get big, or wants to cut some fat - or then maybe for purely healthy matters - right? Ok, if you want to get big, the first thing you should know is that it is not an easy path, you must really be willing to make some sacrifices, thats why it is utterly absurd and pathetic that one would complain about sweating at a gym. Let me tell sweating is only the easy beginning. But if one can't stand sweating, stay the hell out of a gym. Sure, not everyone wants to get big, not everyone is concerned about it, and that's absolutely fine, so what is the deal? The worrysome aspect behind it is not that there are people who don't want to get big, but the fact that many DO, but are not willing to put a minimun effort into it.
You know, sometimes some tool comes to me and asks, "dude, what roids are you taking", and I always reply "a good dose of 'get real' - sorry but I can't quite put it into English -". The fact is, people don't have the guts to pursue their objectives, so they will always point their fingers at the bigger guy and say "Great deal, he is full of roids; I could get this big if I took half the roids he uses". Or the mediocre lawyer will come of and say the so much better lawyer is like that "only because his parents were rich and he could study in the best schools and universitiy". They do so because it is so much easier than to realise their mediocrity and utterly failure. They always want to take the EASY path, that's why they want to take roids in their first weak of joking around the gym - which they call "lifting". That's why they preffer to take things easily from their parents instead of working hard for them. Well, the examples are infinite, I should stop here.
And why are people like that? Sure there is inherent weakness bound to all of us, but surely the current state of things is helping people to "potencialize" their mediocrity. Too much welfare state, too much PC crap, way too many people blaming - I mean the spokesperson here - the others and society for everything; in other words, too much leftism. People are raised to be whiners and losers from the craddle.
You are dead on right, education is a whole different matter from gymnastics, but there is some very specific kind of "education" undergoing in the west that is producing exactly these type of people I have been mentioning. The same people who want to get big by taking roids and trolling around the gym; who want to be good lawyers but don't want to study their asses hard. Because they are "learning" from the get and go that competition produces "bad and ambitious people"; they learn that things should come easily and lightly; they realise they don't need to put effort into nothing, because there will always be people who will do it for themselves, and they are satisfied with small bits and pieces in the manner of a welfare check. Untill they decide, obviously, that they deserve more for their whole usefulness - read getting wasted all day long, or any other fruitful activity these people attend to - and then they start to whine - they learned to be whiners since they were children - to demand bigger bits and pieces of the cake. Then it comes the spokesperson of mediocrity - read leftists - and start to convince - aka brainwash - people into believing the losers are like that because they never had any chance, that society was cruel to them, when the fact of the matter is that they never stood up for themselves, and the gruel reality is that now we are going to have to stand for themselves, be it in the manner of increased taxes or whatever - because they are many ways.
And then more people are raised like that. As I said, it's a vicious circle.
The issue I take with this system is that burdening a child with too much work -- especially the rote kind that dominates literary and mathematical skills -- does not benefit the child's character. Their understanding may grow, but not because of the sheer work. In my own experience, I've never paid any mind to work forced upon me. I learned nothing in one teacher's class where homework was severe, merely because the delivery was wholly inappropriate.
You see, the biggest benefit these children will get from it is not even an increased understanding of maths, because, quite frankly, this is a mostly genetical matter, and everyone is bound to their natural limitations. But they will learn from the get and go some discipline. Furthermore, when people face their own natural limitations, but are taught to fight back, they become better and stronger humans beings. I have meet people worse at maths than me, and certainly some who were better at it than me, but those inspired me to work my ass hard, because I knew I would have to put twice as much his effort into it if I ever wanted to beat him.
That's what's so great about it. Being naturally superior to someone in something does not ensue you are going to get farther than him into that. Why? Because effort and discipline are equally as important as skill. History has countless examples of effort surpassing naturally more honed skills and talent. But that is only possible when people are taught to fight their own limitations, when people are not pat on their backs and said "that's ok, second is as good as first"; when discipline is not despised as some backward, old and useless concept; when people learn that being successful is good and that everyone should try to be on top, always, instead of spitting on "obsessed" - which I call determined - people who try their best.
We can't be passive when people are being raised into gutless conformists, whiners.
But to expect people to understand their limitations, but to not to accept them, to that it is required that they are taught to act like fighters. They need to be exposed to their own limitations and weakness, so that one can't exploit it somewhere in the future.
To use an analogy, you cannot expect to teach someone to embroider with a toothpick. While it may be feasible after some great struggle, the delivery is absurdly difficult, and as a result very little progress will be made.
On the other hand, you can't do the work for them. Just use the right tool: A needle. Then they'll get the job done right.
Not to dismiss your analogy, let me further use it. After greatly struggling with a toothpick, surely you have to admit one will find stupidly easy to embroid with a needle when he finally get's the chance to use it. I would be willing to bet he would have an easier time than someone introduced to a needle from the get and go.
Waste of time? I call that learning to respect and to accept hardships, and learning how to value things, because, most often than not, they don't come easily. It's a great process of self learning and self evolution.
Hard work does not guarantee results.
Hard work won't ensue you get what you want, because there are circunstances, there are limitations - as previously said - there are variables. Not everyone was born to be a great physician, not everyone was born to be a great sportsmen, but there is absolutely no way that someone who is really determined about something, and who works hard for it - and I mean real hard work - won't get at least near his aim, unless we are talking about a totally incompetent person, because like it or not, they do exist. Still, the great majority of people could get far, if only they tried.
It isn't teaching them to be smarter, or better at something.
No, you got it all wrong. None can make another smarter or anything like that. That can only grow out of oneself. It's all about providing means and tools for people to grow and get better for themselves.
I believe the only way to achieve that is by undergoing the whole process stated above.
All it will teach them is to be more anxious, stressed, and prone to competition.
For all that I have said so far, I don't really think that should be the case. For one, stressed? People some centuries ago were subjected to far more "stressful" circunstances than we are today, and yet they did just fine, if not better than we do.
Anxious? You know, once I read a piece of scientifical work from a Canadian scientist - don't remember his name, unfortunately - in which he compared Whites, blacks and Asians in several different aspects. I remember one of the things compared was the anxiety, patience of each Race. It was done like that, the researches would make the following offer to people: "A small piece of a chocolate bar right now, or the full bar in two weeks time". I don't remember if the subjects were children or not, but that's not important. Anyway, the Asians were found to be the less anxious, most patience ones, while the blacks were in the other extreme, and Whites were the middle ground.
Now we all know how Japanese society is competitive, harsh and unforgiving. It's a part of their Culture, but yet that has not produced insecure and anxious people, as you seem to believe it does.
Prone to competition? Sure, and that's good.
Further, you seem preoccupied with an idealism that is, for all intensive purposes, as practical and as helpful as Marxist communism. It's all very nice to say people should not blame society, that we should not bow to mediocrity, and there I agree. But a directly opposed regime does not help matters, because with it will come all new problems, equally as demoralising and stagnating as the ones they replaced.
I agree 100%. Without getting into the merit of the marxist ideology, which I find repulsive, demented and sick, the biggest problem of leftists - hard liner commies, hippies, whatever - is their idea that as soon as we adopt their role model of society as a concrete reality, suddenly all the problems we face and all the human suffering will cease to exist, because they believe they have the answer to all humans burdens and misery.
However, you are wrong to assume I am like that. I don't believe my way of reasoning is the response to all human suffering and misery, because, and as a Christian I deeply believe that, suffering is inherent to the human condition and nature. As long as you are alive, you are not imune to suffering and hardships, no matter the type of society you live in, no matter your social/economical condition.
Of course I know new problems would arise, new issues would be put into the balance, BUT, all in all, I firmly believe we would have it better, because, if anything, we would be far more independent people and prone to individual progress and development - let's leave it at that because I am tired of all that writting.
Left and right extremities are hardly good directions to go right now.
Maybe, but I think the west is becoming increasingly leftist as the day passes, and I mean really leftist.