To answer the question in the literal sense, "No. Hardship is not necessary for wisdom. Learning is."
However, that answer has a pretty big asterisk attached to it because people (including the touching stories that have been posted) tend to learn what they take to be their most valuable wisdoms from hardship and tragedy.
And on a similar note, the reason that I come to this thread is because I was reading one of Christopher Hitchen's final articles before he died a week ago on the falsehood of "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." It's an interesting read because, for me anyway, it reminded me that it's not what happens to a person that defines them but rather what that person chooses to define themselves from the experiences in life.
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"... Where is there most truth? The one prays in truth to God though he worships an idol; the other prays falsely to the true God, and hence worships in fact an idol." --Søren Kierkegaard (trans. David F. Swenson)
Yes. Suffering is a key element of our development as human beings. Without it, we can become complacent, foolish and unwise. When we suffer, we find out what it truly takes to overcome that which we are suffering for. If you do not suffer, then you have no passion. If you have no passion, then you will not understand your emotions. Understanding your emotions is the key to handling your suffering. Do not be afraid of suffering. Suffer more.
Hardship is necessary to really grow as a person. Some hardships make you a much better person while others make it mostly impossible to succeed in life using pretty much any definition of succeed.
My story while not as bad as some is honestly my reason for believing that too much hardship is bad.
I was born to a family with a mentally disable daughter. It was had from my parents to deal with this both financially and personally. I think they may have viewed her condition as some sort of punishment and went out of the way to blame everything and everyone they could. From what I can discern now drugs, alcohol, and smoking likely played a large part in this.
My parents lived as drug dealers and users for most of my life. They were extremely paranoid about it, and did not allow me to have friends. They were also super strict with me to keep me away from their habits. I ended up spending most of my time in my room alone.
This was part of my problems in social situations as a child entering into school. Most of my teachers saw me as a bright kid who had a ton of potential.(i could read and write at a first grade level at the age of 4. Probably a product of me reading mostly non-stop as a preschooler since I had nothing else to do while I was alone in my room)
Beyond the drugs and the non-stop drinking my parents fought a lot. It was never just arguments and it was always physical. Most of the arguments seemed to be attached to who spent the utility money, who took the last line of coke, or who each was sleeping with while being gone on random drug benders. So much of the time we lived without electric, water, heat, air, or any of the other modern day comforts. I also remember cooking myself ramen on a fire I built outside of the house with water I got from a nearby creek.
As I got older and more social pressure kicked in I started to bet bullied non-stop. So many times I would get my ass kicked and teachers would do nothing. My parents really didn't notice most of the time because they were to far gone. I was always told I should fight back, so 1 time I did. In high school I got my head slammed in a locker by one of the popular basketball players. i turned hit him in the face right as the principle walked up. I was given a month of afterschool detention(which means I had to walk home each day) and the guy that slammed my head in the locker had witnesses saying that he didn't do anything of the sort.
Prior to high school my parents divorced after spending a night in jail for domestic abuse. I was actually kinda glad of the divorce because I had been hit way too many times getting in between them. Most of my life I had lived without god or religion and had been mocked ridiculed and even persecuted by teachers, and peers. I then started to go to church with my mother where I would just be bullied on by the same people as in school.(often times getting beat on by 3-4 people at a time)
I finally got my first friend at the age of 16. At this point and before I had struggled with suicide and thoughts of killing some many people. I felt that I was lost and that nothing would help. Lucky I managed to get through school and move on to adulthood.
I could not get to college as the nearest I could afford was about 25 miles away. I had no vehicle and no hope for the future. I got a job working as a laborer for a construction company with my day who was an operator. I had the job for a few years until my mother died randomly one night and I became an alcoholic.
This is a story in and of itself due to the circumstances. She called me on a sunday night in january. Bitching about my dad and wanting me to give her money that would most likely buy her some illegal prescription pills. i told her no and she got pissed. After 20 mins of fighting and cursing I hung up turned my phone off and left to go to a friends apartment.(at this time I was living with my future wife) The last thing I said was F U.
The next day I got a call from the police saying that my mom never showed up the next day and my sister(who still lived with her) was really scared. I knew at that time that she was dead. I might have been the only one who actually knew she was suicidal. 4 days later they found her car in a near by lake. The worst part was the last words I said to her and not knowing if it was an accident or a suicide. I never told anyone about her being suicidal and it still eats at me to this day some 5+ years later.
To make things worse I started having debilitating pain in my back and hips. It got so bad that i was taking prescription painkillers just to be able to work. Eventually got addicted to them and lost my job due to a failed drug test. Coming down was so tough and even at this moment I struggle with pain. Not being given a chance to go to college all I know is labor which is not possible now. Thankfully I was able to on my step mothers insurance recently and go to the doctor for it. I was excited to finally have my life back only to be told that I need a double hip replacement due to a congenital problem that was not taken care of after i was born. Coming up with the necessary capital for such a venture is largely impossible so I am back to square 1. At this point it is almost unbearable for me to stand longer than about 10 mins at a time which eliminates me from working most jobs that don't require degrees.
Now my relationship with my wife is at ends. i can't even keep a ****ty job. I can't provide for my 2 girls who are the most important thing in my life. I fear social situations, hate leaving my little corner of my wife's parents house. I am a massive failure as far as society is concerned. I have very little hope for the future and I am still on the edge of suicide. My saving grace and biggest source of stress is my 2 beautiful daughters who I love with all of my life.
Here is to hoping this next year holds the chance I need to find myself and my family a future. Thanks to anyone who reads the story, and thanks to those who have also posted their stories. Find great solace in the fact that your not alone in this world no matter if ti seems that way. All of us who have struggled though such hardships have friends in one another.
"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."