fail When I was little, my mother smacked my hand as I went to touch the pan on the stove. Like any reasonable child, that smack hurt and I did not understand why my ‘mommy’ would cause me to hurt. When she was not looking, I went and touched that handle anyway. The sting of her smacking my hand was nothing compared to the sting of getting burned.

   When I was in elementary school, I was given plenty of time to get a book report done. When my dad asked if I was working on it, I of course told him I was. Then, the weekend before it was due, I panicked and made something up. I failed and my dad found out and yes, I was spanked for lying and not doing my work. My teacher allowed me to rewrite it, I turned in a B minus report, but because it was late, I received a C minus.

   As a child, I was given a math test. I got a big fat F and it was emblazoned in bold red ink.  I had neglected to pay attention and I had not studied. I earned the F.

   I had failed, but I do not think I am a failure. I burned myself touching the hot handle of the pan on the stove. I learned not to touch things on the stove. I neglected to study and read the book for the book report. I learned to plan better and study and not wait until the last moment to do my homework or any work I have to accomplish. In math, I did not pay attention, ask questions or do my homework. I failed the test and learned to study, ask questions and study better to avoid the big fat red F. Pain can be a teacher. It teaches us what to avoid.

   In 1989, a new Star Trek motion picture was released. I, being a Trekker had to go see it in the theaters. It was one of the worst of the movie franchise in my opinion. However, there is a great premise in the movie. We learn that Spock has one of the greatest secrets ever kept. He has a brother named Sybok. Now, if you are at all familiar with the franchise, Vulcans work to suppress emotion and only embrace logic. Sybok, while embracing logic also embraces emotion and we see him walking up to people and ‘releiving’ them of emotional pain. That was his special ability. To heal the emotional pain of a person. Captain Kirk refused to allow Sybok to ‘heal’ his emotional pain. “…the pain is what makes me human.” How right that is. You are the sum of your experiences, emotion, thoughts and education. In order to become prepared for life, we must be allowed to experience failure.

   We all know that in Star Trek, one of the tests command cadets must take is the ‘Kobayashi Maru’. This is a test given to monitor the character of the cadet in a ‘no win’ situation. How will the cadet handle complete failure. Everyone dies, the ship is destroyed and nothing the cadet does will avoid complete and utter failure to accomplish the mission. Captain James T. Kirk cheated. He snuck into the testing center and reprogrammed the simulation so that he could, in fact find one way to succeed and save the ship. It was discovered, afterward, that he had cheated but the instructors found that he had showed a creative scenareo. He was allowed to graduate even after being found to have cheated the ‘Kobayashi Maru’. Some would say that Capt. Kirk never faced personal failure and was ill prepared when faced with almost complete failure when his son was killed, the Enterprise NCC1701A was destroyed, Spock was killed and the ‘Genesis’ device was deployed on an unstable planet. (The wrath of Khan).

   Now, of course these examples are fictional. But they do present a great example of what is wrong with liberals today. There are schools that forbid students from having ‘best friends’ but instead force the students to play with large groups of children because the school psychologists want to shield the children from the pain when the friendship fails. There are schools that permanently cancel ‘Honor Student Dinners’ because it is not fair to recognize exceptional achievement when other kids are not being recognized as well. There are schools that do not keep score when children play sports because it is unfair to the loosing team. Emotional pain is a teacher. It prepares us for the real world. When I asked Julie to go to the prom and she not only said ‘no’ but she did it in a public way. It was painful. It prepared me for real life. Imagine what would happen to someone who never had to face emotional pain when they propose marriage to someone that says ‘no’. Imagine how unprepared someone is when they never have to face emotional pain of failure when they get their first job and get fired for making a mistake.

   The emotional pain we experience as children help prepare us for real life. Our children that are ‘shielded’ from this emotional pain now will be stunted in their adulthood. These adult children will suffer greatly and will flock to someone that promises to protect them, like a ‘nanny state’ government as depicted in ‘Oceana’, the government of George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees the ‘right to pursue happiness’, but it does not guarantee success. Abraham Lincoln failed as a businessman, he ran for several positions in legislature and failed but you can not call him a failure. One could argue that his previous failures actually prepared him to run as President of the United States of America which he succeeded.

   Our pain teaches us. How we handle that pain molds our character. Our perception and actions become who we are and help us in future decisions. To deny our children these learning opportunities will ‘retard’ our children’s growth and maturity. If we continue with policies like these, I do believe our society will fall into ‘anarchy’ because our children will not have had the necessary mental growth. If Sybok came to me and offered to ‘relieve’ my pain, I like to think I would respond like Captain James T. Kirk and say ‘…The pain is what makes me human. I need my pain.” Remember the adage ‘What does not kill me, makes me stronger’ But maybe you don’t want to learn. Maybe you want to be shielded. Maybe you want to be told what to do and where to go. If so, learn what happened to Winston Smith at the end of the book ‘Nineteen Eighty-four” or what happened to Sybok at the end of ‘Star Trek; The undiscovered country’ and look into your future.

  (Note: I can’t believe I remember the details of those movies)

The Thinking Tinker

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