What keeps a person going in difficult times? It varies from person to person, but clearly a daily sense of purpose, underpinned by a long range view of life and death, is everything. It is the wise person who can find meaning in seemingly small things. Steadfastly tending one’s own garden, sweeping the floor, keeping one’s own counsel in the face of physical constraints and psychological pressure such as the whole country is now suffering spell the difference between life and death, particularly for those most beset by oppressive circumstances. Now, as it always has been, if the Left has its way, despair as a way of life will prevail. It is each person’s job to face that down.
Taking two contrasting sides of the story this week: what distinguishes the unflappable calm of a William Barr from the crushing despair of Mike Adams? One handily rode herd over the mob, the other was crushed by it. “Which one am I to be?” we all ultimately ask ourselves. From time to time, both. Even our greatest heroes are just human.
Am I to be Winston Smith, Orwell’s hapless Everyman of “1984?” He just wants to live and let live, but Big Brother has plans for him and everyone else. The Master Planners always have plans for the rest of us…plans, lots of plans…
Or am I the undeterred, stalwart soul of Kipling’s “If?”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Despair is lethal, and perfectly understandable in too many cases. It is also the Devil’s most powerful weapon. How each of us fights off resignation within ourselves is the whole story. Within each of us, the battle is won or lost before the public fighting begins. Is it any wonder that those most driven to totalitarian power have such an antipathy to those of us clinging to our guns and religion?
Kipling’s “distance run” is our assignment, every hour, every day.