There is something to be said for toughness, for sucking it up and getting the job done, for stepping outside of your comfort zone and braving unknown (or known) challenges. We expect it from certain professions where, like fire fighters, the job is to run toward what everyone else is running away from.
It helps to be tough. Human beings are often driven by fear, and the best way to deal with that is not to deny the fear or live your life by rules that you believe will keep scary things out of your life or to try to convince yourself that you knew the secret of winning every battle. The most useful thing is to be able to look at the scary something and say, "I can handle this. Whatever comes out of this, I'll still be standing." In all those decades of teaching, I often found that part of the gig was to convince students that they were tough enough to handle whatever was in front of them.
Call it resilience, guts, fortitude--you can even call it grit as long as you don't start citing research about it. But don't pretend that it's some sort of innate quality that can be measured in early childhood, and not, say, some result of background and circumstance.
And always remember that, like virtually every other human quality, it comes with an ugly, toxic twin.
Discussion of toxic toughness has been elicited by the reaction among certain far right comments about Simone Biles. Charles Sykes, over at Politico, collected the worst and tied them up in a big rough bow:But if the attacks lack a coherent idea, they share an increasingly familiar posture. Despite all the rhetoric about individual freedom, the real fetish on the right is toughness.
Men who show emotion, especially those who cry, are weak. Young women who fail to perform are “quitters.” All that matters is strength, winning and a weird obsession with machismo. Just look at Trump’s rebuke on Wednesday of the “RINOs” he accused of helping Democrats get the infrastructure deal passed: “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.” Not responsive to constituents or committed to bipartisanship but weak.
What is evil? “Whatever springs from weakness.”