A Nation of Wussies? Not Spartans!

December 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

A member of the United States government finally called us all out.

“We’ve become a nation of wussies,” Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said on Philadelphia’s 97.5 radio in response to Sunday night’s cancellation of the scheduled NFL game due to predictions of snow.

He clarified his comments in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Times website Monday evening.  He wrote,

Unbelievably, the game was canceled Sunday morning before one flake of snow had fallen, based on forecasts of a significant snowstorm. An hour before game time, the city had less than six inches on the ground. The western suburbs had less than three inches, and Wilmington, Del., to our South, less than two inches. Canceling a game because of that amount of snow is unthinkable. Vince Lombardi must have been rolling over in his grave. Americans in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota – heck, even fans in Chicago, Boston and Pittsburgh – must have been astounded. Have we all become wimps?…

…to call off this game because of snow is further evidence of the “wussification” of America. We seem to have lost our boldness, our courage, our sense of adventure and that frontier spirit that made this country the greatest nation in the world.

Sadly, Gov. Rendell is right.  We have become a nation of wussies. In our climate-controlled lives, we forget what it means to be braving the elements.  Reality isn’t a comfortable 72 degrees.  It’s 42 and raining, or 20 and snowing twenty inches at a time.

If we are no longer able to confront that reality, what are we truly able to do?  Dependence on convenience creates a kind of slavery, a devotion to comfort.

Ancient Spartans were devoted to fitness, to toughness, but never to comfort.  They laughed at comfort.  They spurned luxury.

Gov. Rendell’s lament that we’ve lost the “our sense of adventure and the frontier spirit that made this nation the greatest nation in the world” rings true.  What courage it must have taken for our ancestors to pack what little they could into a covered wagon and journey west into uncharted wilderness.  Each day on the trail was a surprise, a new discovery.  When they arrived at their plot of land, there were no 7-11s where they could grab a few supplies and a 32-oz soda before they ran back in time to watch the end of Glee.  They arrived, weary and exhausted, and they set out to build a home and hunt and forage for food.

The spirit that America was built on, the spirit of adventure, is not too far from the Spartan Spirit of courage, resilience, and loyalty that made Ancient Sparta a revered warrior nation.  But we Americans have forgotten our roots as the Spartans never did.  They never let success trick them into diminishing their training.  Even when reaped material success, they continued to live without because it made them stronger, as individuals and as a nation.


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