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\”Strength\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (STRENGTH): The ability to maintain a moral or intellectual position firmly.

One of the greatest joys that I experience at Georgia Military College is when I put a young cadet into a situation in which a moral choice must be made and the cadet has the strength of character to choose the harder right. In order to avoid undue influence, I often present them with a moral dilemma and let them choose freely—without recourse regardless of the choice. When a cadet chooses the easier course of action, I accept the choice and try not to pass judgment. But, when a cadet freely chooses the harder right, I am so proud that I could almost burst. Allow me to explain.

Our college cadet program has students pursuing their individual dreams. But, by and large, they tend to fit into one of four categories. Basic cadets are here for many reasons but most are improving their academic skills in preparation for a follow-on college. State Service cadets earn a free education while serving our great state and nation. Football cadets are here to play football. Most go on to play at four-year schools and some eventually play in the NFL. Early Commissioning cadets are here to earn an Army commission as a second lieutenant in two years instead of the normal four.

Whatever category the cadet falls into, our cadet program is holistic and intensely focused on character development. It is, as we say, “a package deal.” However, a small group of cadets want to participate in only one aspect of the program and ignore the part they do not like. Some have grown up thinking that rules do not apply to them and some have been morally handicapped by having someone (mother, father, coach, teacher, etc.) come to their rescue when they erred while they were growing up. Consequently, they have failed to learn to take responsibility for their actions. The most recalcitrant few sometimes warrant lots of extra “help.” This latter situation sometimes leads me to ask a couple of young leaders if they are willing to take control of this group and help the unwilling few to learn to do the right thing for the right reason.

Although leading one’s peers is difficult in any situation, leading peers that do not respect authority and outweigh you by a 100-pounds is especially challenging. Sometimes, a cadet leader will admit that he/she is not the person for the job. But, the young men and women who make me most proud are those that say, “I’ll do whatever the job takes.” It is this moral strength that sets these young leaders apart and ensures their success as a cadet leader and will ensure their success in life.

Given a similar dilemma in which we were free to choose without recourse, would we have the strength to willingly choose the harder right?

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

You must rouse into people’s consciousness their own prudence and strength, if you want to raise their character. Marquis De Vauvenargues, French moralist

To us Americans much has been given; of us much is required. With all our faults and mistakes, it is our strength in support of the freedom our forefathers loved that has saved mankind from subjection to totalitarian power. Norman Thomas, Socialist leader

Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment you can grow more surely toward the stars. Brian Tracy, Author

Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle…Napoleon Hill, Motivational writer

Knowledge is not a passion from without the mind, but an active exertion of the inward strength, vigor and power of the mind, displaying itself from within. Ralph Cudworth, Theologian and philosopher

Union gives strength. Aesop

Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg. Dwight Eisenhower, President

As the Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the temptation we resist. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person. Albert Einstein, Physicist

One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength that can overcome adversity. Albert Schweitzer, Philosopher

I judge the relative strength of a man by how envious he becomes, of others, who enjoy a measure of success. Barry Munro, Writer

He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity. Ben Johnson

To do anything that you want to do, that is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself, to test your limits, that is the courage to succeed. Bernard Edmonds, Writer

Tears shed for self are tears of weakness, but tears shed for others are a sign of strength. Billy Graham, Evangelist

There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up. Booker T. Washington, Author and educator

We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose. Charles Baudelaine, Poet

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. Charles de Gaulle, French president

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. Confucius, Philosopher

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us