There is inner strength and two kinds of outer strength. The inner strength comes from deep inside--at the spiritual center, if you will, and permits us to maintainmbalance and self-esteem in the face of sneaky or blatant attack. There is outer physical strength and the kind of strength that permits us to take forceful action to right wrong in the external world, to seek justice for ourselves and others.
Both kinds of strength are nurtured when one suffers travail as he-she proceeds through life and yet emerges on the other side with the soul intact. When I was studying neglected and abused children at UCONN, I learned that some kids possess a kind of inner coping skill that allows them to go through the trauma without being crippled in later life--or not as badly, I should say. No one really knows where this coping mechism comes from, whether it is genetically based or based on life experience.
In studying the I Ching I have learned that both inner and outer strength are needed--but action is not always the best policy. A lot depends on timing whether we take forceful action or not, externally. if we neglect the spiritual side, eventually we will lose the ability to take effective action, for self and others.
According to Brian Browne Walker's interpretation of the I Ching, it is important to "use your strength to clearly separate yourself from incorrectness and reallign yourself from the Sage (your Higher Power)." (Hexagram 21) On the other hand, there is a time for action. As Walker writes, in interpretation Hexagram 34, " the I Ching cautions us to wait patiently for the appropriate time for speech or action....Power can make us eager, but eagerness unbalances and can lead us into trouble. By listening carefully to our Higher power, "we know when to move ahead, when to wait, and when to retreat."
While it is true that one of the prime principles of Taoism, indeed most Eastern philosophies, is based on the need for nonaction, it is clear if you study these philosophies, that as long as you are acting in accord with ethical principles, there is a time to display power, for the benefit of humankind, not to advance egotistical self-interest.