Thinking about the way people like to take a harsh line with each other, I was wandering the labyrinth between coddling the weak and hammering the strong.
Most of us have some degree of sympathy for our fellow creatures. Some only feel it for fellow humans, some even limit it to humans of a certain race, creed or nationality. Others extend it to animals, plants and possibly sentient minerals we haven't learned to talk to yet. But even among the tender-hearted there's a limit. Whether it's a hopeless relative or in-law who never seems to get a job, or that wino on the corner whose entreaties for spare change just get too old, we dig in our heels and say, "look, you're dragging down the whole species. Snap out of it or get the hell away from me."
Among real harshness aficionados, the line comes up a lot sooner. These are the people who revel in a challenge and look forward to dying in battle, literally or figuratively. You are either hammer or anvil with these people.
They have a point, these hard-asses. But I do wonder how many of them really live the hard line every day. When it's time to die by arrogance, do they suddenly discover their soft center or do they man up and fall upon their swords? Some do, some don't, I guess.
It's easy to strike a tough pose until something lays you low. Then you have to decide: do you develop an understanding for the weak or welcome your own destruction because you have proven by failure that you don't deserve to exist?
If you're going to accept that no one is perfect, no one is strong enough to stand completely alone or always lead the charge, you'd better come to that realization early enough to make the best of it. If, on the other hand, you plan to bind yourself to the rigid framework of unbending principle, don't be a bloody hypocrite at the last minute and turn into a sniveling weakling.
I have no patience with career weaklings. The perennially damaged are so much work. But so are the perennially aggressive. I don't have a lot of time for either one.