In nature, increasing strength, relative to the opposing forces of survival, is the only solution to threats to an entities existence. In nature, everything breaks down to fulfilling the prime directives of survival and procreation, with competition and cooperation intermingled to promote strength through the ebb and flow of resistance and adaptation. As living entities, strength is the only and best solution to the threats and problems facing life.
But what is strength? Before we embark upon the quest for strength, we must establish a solid working definition of what it is. Strength is the ability to control opposing forces. For example, one popular measure of physical strength is the ability to control the impact of gravity upon mass. Ones ability to lift or control a heavy object is thus seen as a manifestation of physical strength through the metrics of ones ability to defy the natural downward gravitation pull of electro magnetism upon an object and forcing it in the opposite direction. However, strength manifest in the emotional and rational realms also.
Emotions drive our conscious actions as our minds rationalize which emotions should and should not drive our behavior at a given point in time. Thus, emotional strength is the ability to control our actions despite emotions firing compelling us to act on the emotion.
For an example of what I am referring to, take the “fight or flight” reaction to external threats. If ones natural emotional reaction is dominated by fear, one will be triggered to flee from the threat. Hence, the demonstration of emotional strength in that instance will be to not flee to stand ones ground. On the other hand, if the natural reaction to an external threat is dominated by anger, then fight will be ones natural reaction and hence it will take emotional strength to flee the threat and maintain self respect. Hence, one cannot glean strength from behavior alone, without understanding the dominant emotion firing in the individual.
That having been said, choosing which emotion to suppress and which emotion to act upon requires a rational objective for ones life. The decision of “fight or flight” should ultimately be regulated by rational objectives and benefit cost analysis of the impact that acting upon each emotional impulse will have upon that rational objective. Hence, having a rational objective is a prerequisite to manifesting emotional strength for obviously one needs a reason in order to defy the pleasure or chemical release born from succumbing to our emotional inclinations. Desire being an emotion, if one finds him or herself with hyper desires to be with a particular member of the opposite sex, and one has the opportunity to fulfill this desire, it takes a rational reason not to act. That rational reason might be that one is married and to act on the desire may be detrimental to the marriage. Hence, one rationally chooses fear over desire to guide ones course of action.
In order to have the rational wherewithal to control ones behavior one has to put weight and confidence in the future. One has to have something to look forward to, something their aiming at, in order to properly shape their short term decisions. To have the belief and confidence in a better future radically changes the propensity to seek immediate gratification. Those without confidence in the future are much more likely to engage in present behaviors that risk their future. The dearth in confidence for the future hence creates the rational goal of immediate gratification, which often manifest via giving in to emotional impulses, rather than controlling them. Hence, a young person having unprotected intercourse is much more likely the behavior of those without a plan and confidence in their future.
In light of this, one of the most damaging aspects of 300 years of living under the doctrine of white superiority is the psychological impact upon how we see ourselves, each other and the future. When an elephant is young and is tied down by a rope and struggles in vain to break free but cannot, it will be conditioned to be bound by the same rope in adulthood, despite its ability to break free in the present if it only believed that it could. In the same way, 300 years of oppression has limited many blacks ability to believe in themselves and to think positively about the future in the same degree that is true of others. The social action of 300 years of oppression has manifested a culture reaction or engineering of low expectations for the collective black community relative to others.
One cannot simply institute high expectations without first deprogramming the collective psychologically to the degree that individual blacks believe in themselves and other blacks as much as, if not more than, others. Many people are advocates of increasing expectations, but have no plan to first increase esteem and confidence. The horse must go before the buggy in the proper order of precedence or things will not work as planned, regardless of supposed good intentions.
Thus, for many black people our vision of the future has been conditioned by the realities of the past. Such is proper and represents human nature and hence should not suggest a strategy of forgetting the past. Memory and history serves the purpose of providing a lesson database for the present and future. Without such a lesson database to draw from entities can get caught in an infinite loop of repeating the same mistakes and or falling victim to the same external forces. The past also is the only true laboratory for discovering the causes of the present. Knowing how one arrived in bad situation in the present is valuable knowledge in formulating a plan to avoid or get out of the situation in the future. So I am not at all suggesting that one dismiss the past and become one dimensional via only looking forward. The optimal psychological state of mind is a healthy marriage between looking to the past and looking to the future, which should moderate present behavior to its optimal good.
In conclusion, our ability to manifest strength and rise to our full collective potential is dependant upon our ability to control the impulse to seek immediate gratification. The ability to forgo immediate gratification can only be rationalized when one has a solid plan and confidence in themselves and their future. Without that the perceived risk of sacrificing a future, because one does not have confidence in it, there is less reason to forgo the pleasures of acquiescing to our present emotional impulses. No matter what one does, it’s always the product of a conscious or subconscious calculation to do what is in ones best interest. That’s how all life is programmed to promote its survival, by doing what’s in its interest. The calculations outcome, however, is dependent upon the scope of time the individual puts faith and value in. The shorter the scope, the more likely one will give in to momentary or short term impulses. The problem, of course, is that often that which may be in our short term interest is to our long term detriment. Hence, not having confidence or faith in the future creates a self fulfilling prophecy as ones behavior in the present shapes the outcome of one's future. So when one lacks confidence or solid plans for the future, they compromise that future.