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现代人情感脆弱,要如何变得强硬和坚毅?

更新时间:2016-9-1 11:22:58 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Making Modern Toughness
现代人情感脆弱,要如何变得强硬和坚毅?

When I ask veteran college teachers and administrators to describe how college students have changed over the years, I often get an answer like this: “Today’s students are more accomplished than past generations, but they are also more emotionally fragile.”

当我问资深大学教员和管理人员,这些年来大学生有些什么变化时,我经常听到这样的回答:“今天的学生比以前几代人有更多的成就,但是情感上也更脆弱。”

That rings true to me. Today’s students are amazing, but they bathe one another in oceans of affirmation and praise, as if buttressing one another against some insecurity. Whatever one thinks of the campus protests, the desire for trigger warnings and safe spaces does seem to emanate from a place of emotional fragility.

似乎的确是这样。今天的学生很棒,但他们都将彼此浸泡在认可与赞美的海洋里,仿佛是要相濡以沫,共御某种安全感的缺失。无论你怎么看大学校园的抗议活动,对触发警告(trigger warning)、安全空间(safe space)的渴望,看上去的确是源自一种情感的脆弱性。

And if you hang around the middle aged, you hear a common story line to explain the rise of the orchid generation. Once upon a time, the story line goes, kids were raised in a tough environment. They had to do hard manual chores around the house and they got in fights on the playground. Then they went off to do grueling work in the factory or they learned toughness and grit in the military.

如果跟中年人来往,你会时不时听到一类故事,告诉你“兰花一代”正在到来。他们说,曾几何时,孩子是在严苛的环境里长大的。他们在家里必须完成繁重的体力劳动,还要在游乐场里跟人打架。然后他们会去工厂做苦工,或是在部队里懂得什么叫强硬和坚毅。

But today, helicopter parents protect their children from setbacks and hardship. They supervise every playground conflict, so kids never learn to handle disputes or deal with pain.

但今时今日,“直升机父母”会对孩子百般呵护,让他们避开挫折和艰难。他们会督导每一次的游乐场冲突,让孩子永远无法学会如何处理纠纷或面对痛苦。

There’s a lot of truth to that narrative, but let’s not be too nostalgic for the past. A lot of what we take to be the toughness of the past was really just callousness. There was a greater tendency in years gone by to wall off emotions, to put on a thick skin — for some men to be stone-like and uncommunicative and for some women to be brittle, brassy and untouchable.

这种说法是有一定道理的,但太过怀古伤今却也不必。我们在过去的许多坚毅表现,实际上只是冷酷。那时候,我们更倾向于把情感封存起来,披上厚厚的防护层——有的男人变得冰冷、寡言,有的女人变得敏感、花哨、不可一世。

And then many people turned to alcohol to help them feel anything at all.

而很多人通过酒精来让自己稍稍恢复一点知觉。

Perhaps it’s time to rethink toughness or at least detach it from hardness. Being emotionally resilient is not some defensive posture. It’s not having some armor surrounding you so that nothing can hurt you.

也许该重新审视坚毅这回事了,至少应该跟刚强区分开来。在情感上的坚韧并非某种戒备姿态。这无关乎给自己穿上盔甲,让人无法伤到你。

The people we admire for being resilient are not hard; they are ardent. They have a fervent commitment to some cause, some ideal or some relationship. That higher yearning enables them to withstand setbacks, pain and betrayal.

我们钦佩的那种坚韧的人并不坚硬;他们是热切的。他们对一些事业、理想或关系有着虔诚的坚持。这种更高尚的渴望使他们能够经受挫折、痛苦和背叛。

Such people are, as they say in the martial arts world, strong like water. A blow might sink into them, and when it does they are profoundly affected by it. But they can absorb the blow because it’s short term while their natural shape is long term.

用武术人士的话说,这种人像水一样强悍。水在重击之下会被击破,受到严重的影响。但它可以吸收这股力量,因为击打是短期的,它的自然形态是长期的。

There are moments when they feel swallowed up by fear. They feel and live in the pain. But they work through it and their ardent yearning is still there, and they return to an altered wholeness.

有时他们会感到自己在被恐惧吞噬。他们在痛苦中感受和生活着。但是他们能挺过去,他们的热切渴望仍在,他们会回到一种经过改变的完整性。

In this way of thinking, grit, resilience and toughness are not traits that people possess intrinsically. They are not tools you can possess independently for the sake of themselves. They are means inspired by an end.

这样想来,坚强、坚韧和强硬并非人天生就有的。你无法像拥有一件工具一样,单单拥有其中的某一项。它们是在一个终极目标的感召下产生的方法。

John R. Lewis may not have been intrinsically tough, but he was tough in the name of civil rights. Mother Teresa may not have been intrinsically steadfast, but she was steadfast in the name of God. The people around us may not be remorselessly gritty, but they can be that when it comes to protecting their loved ones, when it comes to some dream for their future self.

约翰·R·刘易斯(John R. Lewis)可能不是天生强硬,但他以民权的名义强硬了起来。特蕾莎修女(Mother Teresa)可能不是天生坚定,但她以上帝的名义坚定了起来。我们身边的人可能不是一直坚强的,但当他们要保护自己所爱的人时,当他们要追求自己的未来梦想时,他们就会那样。

People are much stronger than they think they are when in pursuit of their telos, their purpose for living. As Nietzsche put it, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

当一个人觉得自己在追求自己的终极目标、自己的人生意义时,就会更坚强。如尼采所说,“一个知道为什么活着的人,可以忍受任何一种生活。”

In short, emotional fragility is not only caused by overprotective parenting. It’s also caused by anything that makes it harder for people to find their telos. It’s caused by the culture of modern psychology, which sometimes tries to talk about psychological traits in isolation from moral purposes. It’s caused by the ethos of the modern university, which in the name of “critical thinking” encourages students to be detached and corrosively skeptical. It’s caused by the status code of modern meritocracy, which encourages people to pursue success symbols that they don’t actually desire.

简单说,父母的过度呵护并非导致情感脆弱的唯一原因。还可以是因为一些事导致一个人难以找到自己的终极目标。因为现代心理学的文化导致有关心理特征的谈话和道德诉求分离了开来。因为现代大学的风气是假借“审辩思维”之名,鼓励学生保持冷漠和恶性的多疑。因为现代精英政治的身份准则促使人们去追逐成功的符号,尽管他们并不真正渴望那些符号。

We are all fragile when we don’t know what our purpose is, when we haven’t thrown ourselves with abandon into a social role, when we haven’t committed ourselves to certain people, when we feel like a swimmer in an ocean with no edge.

当我们不知道自己的目标在哪里,当我们还没有不顾一切地让自己投身于一个社会角色中,当我们没有对某个人许下承诺,当我们感觉就像在一片无边无际的大海里游泳,我们就会变得脆弱。

If you really want people to be tough, make them idealistic for some cause, make them tender for some other person, make them committed to some worldview that puts today’s temporary pain in the context of a larger hope.

如果你真想让人强硬起来,那就让他们对某个事业产生一种情怀,让他们对某人倾心,让他们去坚守某种世界观,把今天暂时的痛苦置于一种更宏大的希冀的语境中。

Emotional fragility seems like a psychological problem, but it has only a philosophical answer. People are really tough only after they have taken a leap of faith for some truth or mission or love. Once they’ve done that they can withstand a lot.

情感脆弱看上去是一道心理题,但它的答案只能是哲学的。只有为了某种真理、使命或爱而不顾一切时,一个人才会真正强硬起来。一旦这么做了,他们就能承受很多。

We live in an age when it’s considered sophisticated to be disenchanted. But people who are enchanted are the real tough cookies.

我们这个时代认为,老于世故就等于不抱幻想。但是那些有幻想的人,才是真正难对付的家伙。

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