Releasing a book during a pandemic probably is not the ideal time to do so. But maybe now is exactly the right time for Dan Crenshaw’s Fortitude/American Resistance in the Era of Outrage.
It’s about personal responsibility, self-discipline, and self-reliance. In a nutshell, it’s about mental toughness, something that, arguably, is in short supply these days and that is critically needed to counter the “self-pity, indulgence, outrage, and resentment” that characterizes much of our present culture.
I’ve read a number of books on self-improvement during my lifetime, too many of which were pop psychology babble, and I’ve learned that the dispenser of advice on how to improve oneself better have the bona fides to do so. Fortitude is the best book I’ve read, hands down, on self-improvement.
Crenshaw is 36 years old. It’s legitimate to question whether a such a young guy has the bona fides worthy of one’s attention. One might think that the magical confluence of experience and education producing wisdom would occur much later in life. Crenshaw has what it takes.
A Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander and now Congressman from Texas, Crenshaw is the epitome of mental toughness. While in Afghanistan in 2012 he was wounded, lost his right eye and came perilously close to losing vision in his left. He went on to earn a Master of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was subsequently elected to Congress in November 2018.
His book is the antidote to toxic outrage, a pervasive weakness in our culture that is “the muting of rational thinking and the triumph of emotion.” Crenshaw doesn’t pull any punches, as if you would expect something different from a SEAL. The culture of outrage is something to overcome and this requires one to be mentally tough.
What is this outrage? “What used to be rare instances of political correctness, microaggressions, and irrational anger have metastasized into the outrage culture we see today—characterized not just by outrage and political correctness but also by identity politics and an increasingly polarizing media and digital environment.” It is “petty, weak-minded” and, ultimately, disempowering. It breeds a dependence on government to take care of us, to alleviate our pain.
The media is complicit. Outrage is a poisonous hypersensitivity “cheered on by our media and opinion journalists who thrive on drama, conflict, and strife. Knowing that the most salacious headlines will get the most clicks, journalists are all too happy to oblige.”
The responsibility to change this and improve lies squarely on you. “If you’re losing your cool, you are losing. If you are triggered, it is because you allowed someone else to dictate your emotional state. If you are outraged, it is because you lack discipline and self-control. These are personal defeats, not the fault of anyone else. And each defeat shapes who you are as a person, and in the collective sense, who we are as a people.”
I highly recommend this book.