"Men needed stories to lead them to create, to build, to conquer, even to survive, and without them the human race would have vanished long ago. Men strive for peace, but it is their enemies that give them strength, and I think if a man no longer had enemies, he would have to invent them, for his strength only grows from struggle."
Quote from: The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
This quote made me think of the history of story telling and its role in human history. The Navajo language is probably the most famous among Americans for having had no written form. It was partly why Navajo code talkers were so successful in WWII and why their code was never broken. But to have an unwritten language, your entire history as a people must be passed down through stories, ceremonies, and songs. All the wisdom of the elders, the lessons learned the hard way, the way to survive must all be passed orally. Since every language started out unwritten, the human species has relied on stories to survive this long. To this day we still share wisdom through stories. In essence, this is the whole reason my blog exists. Learning from the stories written by great minds.
As for people needing an antagonist to grow, I think that there is some truth to that. It doesn't need to be another person or group of people, but can be as simple as a topic of study or a problem that we have to overcome. What I do agree with is that "strength only grows from struggle." I was listening to NPR on the radio while I was driving the long stretches of open road on the Navajo reservation during work one day when a piece about the difference of eastern cultural and western culture on education came up. The transcript of the broadcast is linked here for you to read. It opened my mind to the way we communicate to our children. I think it is important to help your child understand that inherent ability is not the end all. They should understand that struggling is the way we learn and that it is completely normal. The process is the important part and if you're not struggling, you should be trying something more difficult. I have tried to convey this to my children but I must confess, I am still not successful. If my son has any difficulty while practicing his cello, he immediately gets discouraged and often starts to cry. If he could understand that struggling through something doesn't mean he's not smart, it just means that he is learning and must continue to give it effort before he will get it, he could enjoy his lessons more, have greater patience with himself, and grow much faster in his ability. As the broadcast states, it is very hard to change a culture, "but it can be done. For example, could we change our views of learning and place more of an emphasis on struggle? Yeah."