A friend of mine who works in the IT industry told me about this experience he had about a decade ago.
A guy in the cubicle next to his asked him to come over and look at his screen. My friend did and saw that his coworker had a pornographic image on display. He quickly turned away and said something like, “Thanks but no thanks.”
The coworker teased and scolded him a bit about being a prude and said, “C’mon, don’t pretend you don’t like it.”
And this is where the story gets memorable for me. My friend said, “I’m not pretending I don’t like it. I’m sure I would like it. That’s why I have to force myself to avoid it.”
I think that’s a great lesson for all of us.
From the middle of chapter 2 of John Stuart Mill’s autobiography, my thoughts exactly:
And I do not believe that boys can be induced to apply themselves with vigour, and what is so much more difficult, perseverance, to dry and irksome studies, by the sole force of persuasion and soft words. Much must be done, and much must be learnt, by children, for which rigid discipline, and known liability to punishment, are indispensable as means. It is, no doubt, a very laudable effort, in modern teaching, to render as much as possible of what the young are required to learn, easy and interesting to them. But when this principle is pushed to the length of not requiring them to learn anything but what has been made easy and interesting, one of the chief objects of education is sacrificed. I rejoice in the decline of the old brutal and tyrannical system of teaching, which, however, did succeed in enforcing habits of application; but the new, as it seems to me, is training up a race of men who will be incapable of doing anything which is disagreeable to them.
Clearing some old dead weight off my bookshelves (The Starr Report? Um, pretty sure I won’t need to read that one twice…), I came across another late-90′s acquisition that was fun for a few minutes, but has long since lost its usefulness: celebrity martial arts movie star auto-bio I Am Jackie Chan: My Life In Action.
Surprise! It’s not that good. The best part was a section on page 56 where Chan reflects on the horrendously gruelling training he underwent as a youth. In short, the children at his school were forced to train from 5 AM to 12 AM seven days a week, for their entire childhood. Cruelty and beatings straight out of Dickens was the norm. Chan’s thoughts can certainly be tied into my larger worries about the world’s downhill slide:
As harsh as it may have seemed, it was a system that had worked for decades, even centuries, producing the very finest acrobats, singers, and fighters that the world has ever seen.