“Hard Times Create Strong Men” is a phrase that is meant to emphasize the idea of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. It suggests that individuals are capable of overcoming difficult situations, even if these might seem overwhelming at first. The concept behind this phrase is that hardships can be used as a form of strength training; it builds up your inner fortitude and gives you the tools necessary to overcome any obstacle.
It’s important to note, however, that this phrase is not meant to glorify pain or suffering, but rather to emphasize the potential for growth from challenging experiences. It implies that people can benefit from hardship if they use it as an opportunity to build their character and become stronger individuals, by learning from their history.
By embracing the idea that “Hard Times Create Strong Men”, we can take solace in knowing that there is always hope in difficult times. We can use our struggles as an opportunity to develop ourselves and come out stronger on the other side.
Online, the expression spawned a series of memes, reflecting upon the decadence of our era and drawing parallels between today’s society and the fall of Rome. Alternatively, ironic memes have also been created from this template, similar to how the Reject Modernity, Embrace Tradition format was hijacked by the internet.
The origin of the phrase “Hard Times Create Strong Men” is an oft-debated topic. Some believe it originated in Ancient Greece, while others believe it to be a more recent creation, due to a lack of evidence. Regardless of its origin, the idea has been approached in both literature and everyday speech.
In his 2016 post-apocalyptic novel titled “Those Who Remain”, Michael Hopf contemplates with the idea that weaker and stronger forms of generations are cyclically replacing each other throughout history. It is in this book that the quote is written in its widely known form : “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.”
This sentiment is one that has been echoed by many throughout history, and is one that continues to be relevant today. In spite of difficult circumstances, it is important to remain resilient and strong in order to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
The phrase was quickly adopted by many, especially right-leaning people, opposing the extreme pacifism of the left. During 2016 and 2017, it frequently surfaced on sites like 4chan, Reddit, as well as Twitter and 9GAG, mostly in the form of various image macros, like a mashup with the political compass meme.
“Hard times create strong men” remains a popular meme, to convey a certain political message, focusing on strength and power and is exploited in political rhetoric, like a 2021 tweet by MMA fighter Tim Kennedy, depicting a version of the meme.
“Hard Times Create Strong Men” was also adopted by Stefan Aarnio as the title of his self-help book, published in 2019.