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The Hard Thing

Some would say what many people lack today is an easily achievable level of respect for all others. Perfect strangers have no business dumping their emotional baggage on each other. Fact is, if you gave those people a second chance, they would think twice.


The tale of the 47 Ronin, a group of powerful Samurai who avenged the death of their master, is a story of both honor to their leader and self sacrifice. Knowing full well the consequences, after killing the court official responsible for their master’s death, these 47 warriors were allowed to commit suicide by Seppuku, ritualistically plunging their swords into their own abdomens, shredding their organs.

But it is not the sacrifice or bravery they exhibited that makes this story so interesting now 400 years later. It is the reverence to honor, and the courage it takes to uphold it that is so meaningful. Living by a code of not only respect for their neighbor but also mortal respect to the morals to which they lived by. They could have run after the killing. Instead they chose the harder path, and forfeited their lives to uphold it.

And frankly, a code of honor is exactly what is missing from our fragile, victim-full society.


So many people today seem like a victim of something or someone. People complain there is a “system of oppression” that keeps them down. Their gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, whatever it is, it seems very easy today to blame someone else for our own perceived lack of a better position.

Fact is most people who feel “oppressed” are simply making excuses not to do the hard thing. Get an education and increase your value to an employer, keep that shitty job until you have better skills, ride the bus and save for a car. All things that are easy to do, but require sacrifice. But progress first requires you to admit to yourself you have the ability to change your situation. The first step to any recovery is admitting YOU are the problem.

A life of victim hood isn’t healthy thinking, it is the “Stockholm Syndrome” being programmed into our daily lives. This condition basically means a terrorist’s captive will tend to create a bond with their captor, one which not only attempts to help them escape the horrible and inevitable outcome of their captivity, painful death, but it also helps them deal with the constant and overwhelming reality of their situation, minute by minute.

But if you program people to simply ignore threats, to walk past danger and look the other way, are you really just avoiding the inevitable? A painful and meaningless existence?

A woman screaming for her life in an alleyway and yet nobody responds much less calls 911. Youths in dangerous cities like Chicago gunning each other down and nobody gets reported to the police? Yet we all get to see the parent on TV sobbing for the loss of their child. Something is missing.


Someone told me once the choice that is most difficult compared to alternatives is usually the right one. In other words if you are presented with a problem, there is usually an easy way out, walk away, or a more difficult one, engage the problem.

Doing the hard thing isn’t about just life and death however. It is a mindset that seems to be very scarce today. Finding a wallet on the floor of a CVS, do you turn it in or raid it for cash? Seeing a handicapped person crossing a street, do you rush to help them beat the light or sit in your car as others impatiently honk? These are simple choices we are faced with everyday. Which option do you choose?

The more you choose the hard thing, does it get any easier? Nope. The more awake you become to these situations the more you see it happening. The more you see others take the easy way out. People just frolicking along in their lives completely unaware anyone else in this world exists. Humanity has lost so much appreciation for the gift of life.


Say what you want of religions, the best of them at least share a common code. Honoring thy neighbor may sound like Old Testament drivel, but it was relevant thousands of years ago, and it is relevant today.

And being a Protector doesn’t mean you just stand-up for yourself. You are honoring a code of protection that all deserve to receive. But you don’t need a gun to be a protector. Just do the hard thing the next time you see it. Chances are you will find it far more satisfying than any other alternative, and you may show others that it didn’t take Special Forces bravery or ninja-like skills to accomplish. Just a small shift in mindset.


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