Wednesday, August 23, 2017


"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."

But what if the cause is not entirely worthy, or what if the man in the arena has some vices?

We, the pinnacle of moral development and the epitome of all virtues, weigh those vices and decide whether to acknowledge the other's achievements. We must not celebrate the poetry of this man because he was a thief and murderer, or the scientific achievements of that man because he wore the shirt his girlfriend gave him, or the courage and skill of a defeated enemy because you must have truth but never reconciliation. You can't celebrate a man who helped design a great experiment in liberty because he wasn't consistent.(*)

You've heard the complaints in the other direction too, haven't you? "You can't honor that Communist terrorist Nelson Mandela."

I don't fly a Confederate flag, nor want a statue of Lee in our neighborhood park. I get it that some people don't feel as though they were involved in any historical reconciliation. What gets up my nose is the envious insistence on our superiority and right to demand obedience to every single detail of today's rules.

Who died and made us God?

(*) You may have to fight the enemy because of his vices, but acknowledge his virtues--they probably make him a more dangerous enemy. You might even learn something from him.

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