Meta Description: <The “Greatest Generation” had grit, but do we and our children? Will we be able to rise to the occasion if our liberties are threatened?>
Remember the John Wayne picture named “True Grit”? In the movie, a fourteen-year-old girl Mattie hired Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne, because she heard that he had true grit. She needed someone with passion and resolve to track down and capture the man who had murdered her father.
Have you ever thought about that word “grit” and what it actually means. What was it that John Wayne’s character had that was so special?
Well, I decided to look up the definition, and here is what I found. It means courage, resolve and strength of character. Synonyms are bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, strength of character, strength of will, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, perseverance and endurance. Kind of reminds you of the girl in “True Grit” when she crossed that river.
One example of use in a sentence was given by the online dictionary. It said, “He displayed the true grit of a navy pilot.”
Which brought me to think about a generation that seemed to have these characteristics. Many of us knew them as the “greatest generation”. They were the men and women who carried our country through World War II. As a whole, they epitomized this concept.
But their time was over seventy years ago. And today is…well, it is today! I can’t help wondering if our generation has this? Do we have true grit. I’m thinking, not. I’m also wondering if we have raised our children to have it, too?
I’m concerned because whether we want to admit it or not, we seem to have an enemy. Someone wants to take away our freedoms of speech, religion, and general happiness. There are those elsewhere in this world who don’t like us the way we are. They keep hitting us here on our own soil–a little here and a lot there (the Twin Towers). Each time, the threat makes us realize that we may have to call on our young people to help us again. And I’m not talking about simply air strikes in another country.
I guess I’m worried, because I’m wondering if we will have what it takes to rise up and do what is needed to be done when the time comes. It will take much fortitude, courage and hardiness from not only our military but from all of us as well.
That word “fortitude” worries me, because it seems a little hard to maintain fortitude when we have such short attention spans. I’ll give you a brief example that seemed truly insignificant at the time but may be an indication of a bigger problem.
As a family we celebrated our extended family Christmas on Christmas Eve. There were 26 family members, including our children and their families, our sisters and theirs, a nephew and his, and even one mother-in-law. As is traditional, we placed two of the grandchildren ages eight and seven in charge of handing out the gifts from the great pile under the Christmas tree.
There was one problem, though. They would pick up two or three, hand those out, and then get distracted. We would have to jump start the process again. Their parents, too, were distracted and didn’t seem to notice the problem. After about three times of this, I finally gave up and jumped in and handed out the gifts myself.
I thought of a quote I recently heard. “People today have the attention span of a gold fish.” Notice he didn’t say kids. He said people, and I think he may be right.
I’m wondering if we as productive members of society should be more concerned about teaching our children to have true grit–to demonstrate strength of character, hardiness and resolve. It all goes hand in hand with “finishing the job”. How can we have a “work ethic” if we never finish? And again I’m not just talking again about the kids. This is the job of parents and even grandparents, to maintain the effort through thick and thin. To “finish the job”. If we give up over and over, how can we expect our children to do otherwise.
Our nation’s schools of psychology are beginning to look more into this behavior called “grit”. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as a child’s “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” She says that it is a better indicator of future earnings and happiness than either IQ or talent.
I found a blog post that explains how parents can teach their children grit. It is entitled What is Grit, Why Kids Need It & How You Can Foster It? Click on the name, and a link will take you there.
Also, this is the time of year when we re-evaluate ourselves to see what needs improvements. It is the time of year when New Year’s resolutions are made. A good focus for all of us can be to evaluate how we’re raising our children. Subsequently, a good resolution might begin in 2016 that can teach our children grit and ultimately help themselves and ourselves.
I sincerely hope someone out there is listening. These freedoms that we all cherish can only be maintained with diligence, attentiveness, and just plain “doing our part”. We must maintain and finish the jobs that we’ve been given.
Grit may be a key ingredient to our liberties.