Comfort is a word Americans like to focus on. We have our favorite comfy coffee shops with our regular drinks. We work the same comfortable jobs for years in a row, working up to earning more money to buy more comfortable houses and cars. We have friends like us who like the same coffee shops we do. We work thousands of hours to make sure we are happy, secure, comfortable.
We idolize personal comfort to the point that comfort becomes our main goal. Think about your next greatest pursuit, a big goal you set for yourself. What’s the end result of that goal? Odds are it will somehow make you more comfortable, whether that be physically, emotionally, socially or spiritually. Why are we so afraid of discomfort?
Safe spaces and trigger warnings have increased on university campuses around the nation, supplied by the idea that a comfortable environment is the only one where students can grow. Keith Whittington, in his book, “Speak Freely” writes, “As the possible threats to a student’s self-esteem multiply and grow increasingly subtle, the demands for actions to eliminate those threats grow apace.” In other words, learning is only accepted when it is done in a comfortable space. However, I would argue the most effective learning comes in times of discomfort and in spaces unknown.
Kris Vallotton, in his sermon titled, “The Power of a Vision,” says, “Vision gives pain a purpose. Those without vision spend their lives taking the path of least resistance as they try to avoid discomfort. The level of sacrifice that a vision requires will determine the size of people who follow.” By training the future generations to live taking the path of least resistance will undoubtedly develop a society of people who lack vision. We need to introduce students to the harsh realities of life, be it racism, hatred, religion, homelessness, death, assault, starvation, or any other hard truth that exists within the world. Now, I do not believe that students should be tossed unprepared into these topics. Still, they must know how to deal with these uncomfortable topics so they choose not to ignore them when (not if) they confront them in real life.
We need to work as a society to step out of our comfort zones and embrace the challenges of the unknown. We will never reach our full potential if we don’t force ourselves to exist in discomfort.