revised Fall 2008~alamb
In Montana Strength can manifest itself in many different forms among many different people. When asked about strength most people interviewed quantified it as something physical(#). Physical meaning something that can be measured such as weight lifting and sports in general. Strength is also spiritual(#) and mental and can be drawn from and shared with others, as in cooperation(#)
People must be strong. One can achieve strength alone, from a higher power, for the benefit of someone else, or draw strength from others. Without strength people tend to fall victim to individuals or groups in society that are more powerful than them.
One can join any type of fitness club and experience the most primitive display of strength. Here you find people pushing their bodies to the limit. Observing this from an outside perspective one would probably not quite understand why people would want to put their bodies through this kind of physical exertion, but it is an attempt to increase their own level of power, regardless of their relative power to those who surround them "It's hard to explain the feeling of power and confidence clients feel when they begin to see results" says Greg, a trainer at a local gym. Strength seems to manifest itself in competitive environments, groups of people usually no more than three in numbers, each in their own group similar to a pack of wolves struggling for the alpha dog position. The alpha is obviously the strongest one of the group; he or she sets the tone of the workout for the rest of the group, all of whom look up to pillar of strength.
The most interesting response to the question of strength was the answer from the terminally ill cancer patient. This patient, whose name cannot be disclosed, said that strength is, for him, “the simple act of going to his next treatment by wheelchair instead of stretcher”. This person will be called "John". John stated that if he is able to go to his radiation treatments by wheelchair, it makes him feel strong. John stated that even though he would rather go by stretcher some days, he will struggle through the pain and weakness in order to be strong for his family. Even in the face of an incurable disease this man has to remain strong physically, emotionally, faithfully not only for himself, but his family as well. John told me that he has "put his future in the hands of God", then laughs and says "if that aint strength I don't know what is".
One can travel around and find many institutions that embody strength and help people become strong in different ways. Support groups for alcoholics, over-eaters, gambling, and criminals and so on are all examples of these institutions. Strength is something that can be drawn from one person to another, and for that reason these group meetings tend to be successful. When people support each other in groups the strength gains seem to come with more ease and are more beneficial to those involved. Some people may be forced to attend these meetings against their will, however sometimes these people find that their addiction may be stronger than their will to gain the strength to live without addiction.
**Strength is both individual and relative and can only be assessed on that basis. In order to retain or build upon ones own strength you must discipline yourself both mentally and physically and execute the necessary course of action; all while disallowing your own values to flex and weaken to make room for your new strengths.
People must commit to strength, physically(#)by keeping their bodies healthy, but remain faithful to their beliefs(#)by fulfilling their spiritual needs however they see fit. They must also Refrain from passing judgment on the weak(#). Maintaining and building strength will also promote confidence(#) and beauty.