The Cowards in Charlottesville

Those who act toughest on the outside are often weakest on the inside.

Friday, August 11, and Saturday, August 12, were awful days for America. White supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee, as well to protest against civil rights more broadly. The demonstrations quickly turned violent. One woman was murdered and many people were injured.

The white supremacists probably thought this was a show of toughness and strength. That’s funny — because it was the exact opposite. Those who feel the need to outwardly project toughness and put on machismo acts of strength are almost always the weakest inside. This is no exception.

Here, we’ve got a bunch of people — mainly white males who come from honor cultures — who are afraid of a more equal playing field. They are afraid because they know that in a world where others are granted the same opportunities they have, they won’t be able to compete.

Responding to this situation with true toughness requires making an honest appraisal of one’s capabilities and the surrounding environment, and then moving forward thoughtfully. It’s about taking stock of where one is weak, working to improve oneself, admitting one’s vulnerabilities, and asking for help when one needs it. This response, which I’ll call real toughness, lends itself to genuine self-security and inner strength.

Responding to this situation with fake toughness is about marching around chanting bigoted slurs while holding onto guns.

Enter again the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville and anyone who supports them, sympathizes with them, or even begins to “understand” or equivocate their actions. These people epitomize fake toughness. They are nothing more than cowards who are terrified of an equal playing field.

Instead of embracing a fairer and more genuine meritocracy, working to improve themselves, and admitting that they might not be perfect (and asking for and accepting help when they need it), they instead run away from their insecurities and hide behind hateful slurs and outward acts of strength. But make no mistake: these people aren’t tough at all. They are weak. They are small. They are cowards.

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For more, you can follow me on Twitter @Bstulberg and check out my new book, Peak Performance.

Bestselling author of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox. Co-Creator of The Growth Equation. Coach to executives, entrepreneurs, and MDs.

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