26 January 2013

The Man in the Arena

This nation, The United States, has had some great leaders in character and strength over its history. We have been privileged by true men and women willing to step into the ring and fight for greatness, not for their selfish ambition or ego, but for the whole, for you and me. Theodore Roosevelt is one president who’s charisma and character are the backbone of for great example in a lot of ways. He was an imperfect man, but he is remembered still as a true leader.

He once famously said the following in a speech in Paris, France:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

For me this quote strikes a nerve in me, it’s a welcome spur in the side to stand up from among the crowd and fight and try and dream and hope and be more than what the critics say and believe and try to keep me as. It’s also a reminder that far too much energy is spent  fretting over vacant criticisms from those who’s words have traveled beyond their right to speak because they are not my peers, not my equals because to be my equal means that they would be tasting the same dirt that I am, bleed from their own veins like I do, and if they truly understood me and my endeavors as I do, they would not have dared raise a criticism against me. The truth about the critics is that they are afraid to try, and seeing someone with the courage to risk where they cannot is a reminder that they are weak—and they do not like the truth. And last, the quote reminds me that it is better to try and fail than to accept defeat without trying, to live each day afraid to try. To step up to the plate and not ever swing. 

Long after the man has passed away, his legacy of courage is still an inspiration.

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