This I Believe

Lindsay - Wylie, Texas
Entered on February 27, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

The Power of Discipline

When the word ‘discipline’ is mentioned, most people are immediately reminded of the military, citizenship, and rigorous, limited lifestyles in general. To most people, including the majority of my teen-aged peers, ‘discipline’ denotes obedience, rules, and subjectivity to authority (something teenagers are notorious for constantly resisting); basically, to a teenager, discipline is a term synonymous with boredom or restricted creativity. Discipline? Discipline means those straight standing, stiff-lipped, army guys who jump to attention at the whisper of an order, or heartless, obstinate, black tie government officials behind the desk at the public offices…right? Discipline turns people into cold, push-button machines, who think nothing, feel nothing, and give nothing…right? Wrong; there are many different definitions of discipline, all given along the same lines of, “controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.” Some of the most frequently posed questions by the senior community or members of the modern working class include: “what’s wrong with you kids,” or “what happened to this country?” They ask why the country is deteriorating and why there are so many evils in this world. Let me add some questions of my own to those of my elders. Why do kids take drugs? Why is America fat? Why do terrorists hate? Why do people steal, kill, and rape? I believe all of these problems and more can be effectively answered and solved with one word, discipline.

I believe that, as a whole, humans have lost all self-control. Feelings such as revenge, lust, greed, and fear run our lives, and our lack of self-discipline has let these evils pervade through our society and poison the young generations. Kids grow fat because they lack the discipline to refuse another piece of cake, or to stop playing Gamecube even though they understand that it’s unhealthy to play for two or more hours a day. Kids, whether young or old, rich or poor, take drugs because they lack the discipline to confront fears, venture away from the norm, and defy the mounting demands of peer pressure. Young, angry, passionate Saudis, Afghanis, Egyptians and even Americans become terrorists because they cannot and have not learnt to control their rage and curb their desires for revenge. Plagues upon our nation and epitomies of our country’s faults, gangs rape and steal simply because they don’t posses the discipline to ignore lust and greed; rather than bothering to resist natural urges, they yield in to their animalistic behaviors and loot whatever they please. Confidence and achievement only come with self-esteem and an unshakeable sense of pride. How can we experience a sense of personal pride if we cannot claim victory over the world’s most basic tribulations?

I believe discipline is steadfast, pure and absolute. Discipline, above all else, is the upholding of commitments and the honoring of morals and ideals. Someone with true discipline can and will stand up to authority or centuries of accepted principles and fight relentlessly for what they believe is just. Martin Luther King Jr. marched against the most powerful government in the world, peacefully fighting for equal rights. Imagine, the unimaginable, vast reserves of dignity and self control it required for the participants of the Civil Rights marches not to fight back and defend themselves in the face of slavering, lunging dogs, and fogs of pepper spray. Often they were forced to turn back and run, but always they returned, eager and willing to honor their commitment towards the struggle for equality. Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, and repeatedly forced into exile from his homeland for his radical writings in support of uncensored press. Throughout his many exiles and the threats from the French absolute monarchy, Voltaire remained dedicated to his cause. By never wavering and remaining rooted steadfast in your beliefs, as MLK and Voltaire demonstrate, discipline gives you the strength and ability to be yourself. Discipline, then, becomes personal. Discipline is your freedom, originality, and drive. Discipline thrives in the persons who realize their own mistakes and, learning and adapting from them, resolve never to make them again. People of lesser talent admire great athletes for their ‘natural skill,’ and yet the same athletes, earning millions of dollars a year, had the discipline when they were younger to make errors, practice, and keep playing. Discipline is understanding your purpose, and by committing to it, eventually grasping it. Sometimes unwittingly, we honor those people with discipline, people we sometimes call heroes.

I live by my philosophy of discipline, and though I have not yet perfected my own sense of purpose or self-discipline, especially when dark chocolate is involved, I rest assured in the fact that I still have a lifetime to work out the details. I believe in discipline, the greatest quality once so cherished and respected, and its power to reveal humanity’s potential.