There’s a saying that’s common in the online world. We’ll watch someone have a very public meltdown—or we’ll watch someone exhibit brazen hypocrisy—and critics will sneer, “Trump broke him.” It’s a mocking way of saying that their anger got the best of them or that their anxiety turned into unseemly public panic. A mainly-partisan segment of the public seems to enjoy these spectacles. They like watching people fail.
And make no mistake, the evidence of failure abounds. People are, in fact, breaking. They are breaking all around us.
The longer I live, the more I realize that we simply don’t know who we truly are until we’re tested. We can vocalize our beliefs all day long, but when living those beliefs is hard—when upholding our principles carries a cost—that’s when we learn what we truly value.
Soldiers are familiar with this concept. There’s an old war movie trope of the soldier who brags about his bravery and then fails in combat, while the quiet, humble man demonstrates steel in his spine. But the trope is based in some truth. There is in fact often a gap between a man’s rhetoric in his barracks and the reality of his actions under fire.