Saintly Thoughts

On the Educational Advantages of Failure

I have spent more than what seems like my fair share of life either failing at things or feeling as though I have failed.  I suspect I am not alone.  The only sure way to avoid failure is to attempt nothing and lie in blissful entropy.  But such a condition lies waste to the human soul, for whatever else marks out the human purpose in life it is surely not to do nothing.  So to attempt to achieve anything is to face the near certain prospect of failure, at some time or another.  I know that it often seems as though there are many who glide through life with the effortlessness of gods, achieving all that they set their minds to with suave and certain ease.  Perhaps there are some who are truly so positioned in this life, but I wonder how much such a condition accrues to their benefit.  For to achieve everything with ease likely means that one is not straining or exerting oneself much, which inevitably leads to a withering away of talent and drive.  This is tragic because it means that this poor soul will never come near to accomplishing the potential that was granted to them.  However, the other possibility is far more sinister.  For the person who never fails cannot help but have a skewed view of the world, and wonder at the mass of men who strive and toil and yet fail spectacularly.  This worldview breeds cruelty of spirit, hardness of heart, and hubris as to one's own innate talents and abilities.  For while there is surely some small semblance of justice in the world, it is not so just that all who deserve success due to their merit and drive achieve it nor is it true that wicked and sedentary men never prosper.  Such apparent ease may easily turn an otherwise good man into a monster. 

So I will take umbrage in my failures. For while the pain of such failures inevitably leaves me bruised and bloodied, so long as I press forward ever up that mountain I am not defeated and I may not despair.  The farther I trod this road, though I may ultimately fail, the stronger I become in my resolve and soul.  And so though I shall surely stumble, and in my stumbling I may even waylay the ascent of others, I shall rise again, and pick up my burden, and carry on with my journey, though I know not where.

There is a deep moral here concerning the methods we use to educate our young.  For in our zeal to be merciful and spare the young the bitter stings of failure and disappointment, we deprive them rather of the opportunity to face the full potential of their existence.  For we, as we currently are, are made to fail, and only in our arising from such failure might we receive our true education, and better love our fellows.