German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Christopher Hitchens
i am not sure exactly what Christopher Hitchens actually concludes about Nietzsche’s famous saying.
i know that i disagree with Nietzsche.
the saying lands up there with “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” what does not kill me makes me bitter, cynical, resentful, sad, depressed, loathe of people – unless i find some way to deal with the pain and suffering. ‘stronger’ for the most part means ‘having created a shell around oneself as protection against pain’. people who claim that they are not hurt by what others say to them, however vicious are lying to you and to themselves. they have adopted an attitude of arrogance, a brave face behind which they are smarting from the stings of insults and put-downs just as much as you and me. however, they are too weak to admit to the imagined ‘weakness’ of feeling hurt and harmed, and therefore declare their ‘strength’. their ‘strength’ is just a pretense.
words do hurt. hurtful words delivered with physical violence are doubly hurtful and harmful. they kill the soul. not as quickly and cleanly as drunk driver or an armed robber might. they kill slowly, insidiously and horribly. it works like the poison hemlock Socrates was sentenced to drink.
as we are ‘raised’ on the idea of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.” and “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” we are raised to deny and feel bad about being hurt by what others say. so we sign our own emotional and spiritual death-warrants and cover ourselves in layer upon layers of imagined strength that is nothing but window-dressing for a bleeding heart and soul, slowly growing cold and rigid.