The Worth of a Valiant Struggle Even If the Outcome Is Not What We’d Hoped
By Ken K. Gourdin
While the whole speech may be worth my attention and worth further exploration in this modest corner of Cyber space, I stumbled across the following excerpt from the speech “Citizenship in a Republic,” delivered in 1923 at the Sorbonne in Paris by former President Theodore Roosevelt.
I’ve tried many things in my life, succeeding at some and failing at many. I despair of ever finding, making, or being afforded the opportunity to make the kind of meaningful, positive contribution to my community, to my society, or to the lives of my fellow human beings of which, given such an opportunity, I would be capable. But I suppose it’s the striving that counts most.
As a slightly-altered excerpt from something I wrote elsewhere on the blog once put it:
[Living] means having the courage to give all of your heart [to whatever you do]; having the courage to face fear; having the courage to take risks; having the courage to feel pain; and having the courage to handle [disappointment]. And I’ve learned that the person who never has the courage to face fear, to take risks, to feel pain, or to handle [disappointment] is a person for whom life quickly begins to lose its meaning.
I find solace in the excerpt below from Mr. Roosevelt, as well as in similar things I have posted on the blog. See, for example, the following address (this and other links last accessed August 29, 2018):
In a similar vein, British sprinter Derek Redmond was favored to win the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He did not, however, win the gold. A valiant effort notwithstanding, he did not win the silver. In fact, he didn’t even win the bronze. So what was so special about his performance? He limped appoximately the final three quarters of that 400 meters on a torn hamstring. As Redmond began limping, his father ran to his aid, dodging officials in the effort to reach his son. Reportedly, Redmond’s father told him, “You don’t have to do this.” Even with no medal on the line, a determined Redmond reportedly told his father, “Yes, I do.” Whereupon his father said, “Then we’ll do it together.”
Just as was the case with the determined figure skater in the above link and with Derek Redmond, President Roosevelt points out that there is value—and valiance—in the struggle, that we’re better off making the effort even if the outcome might not be what we’d hoped. President Roosevelt said:
“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 them 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in 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 fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The foregoing quote was found at the following address: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html. If my aspirations remain forever out of reach—even if I fail—at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I “fail[ed] while daring greatly.”