In Chile, the Lessons of Isolation

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Dalrymple notes an unexpected advantage of all that media attention directed toward the Chilean miners:

Here, then, is an illustration of the evident but often forgotten fact that social pressure is conducive to virtue as well as to vice. We generally imagine that so-called peer pressure leads only to such activities as taking drugs and vandalism; but it also leads, or rather can lead, to emulation of virtue, self-respect and decent pride. No man but an out-and-out psychopath wants to appear worse than his fellows in the eyes of the world; and the miners’ (justified) pride in appearing brave and self-composed helped them to survive their ordeal.

Thus stoicism saves where incontinent self-expression destroys: an interesting thought, perhaps, for a psychotherapeutic age.

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