One of my favourite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt
“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.”
Love this, try to live by it, often fail, but still hear it calling me. Of all the things I fear, the one I fear the most is ending up with a ‘cold and timid soul’. Maybe it is similar to John’s warning against ending up ‘neither hot nor cold’. I sometimes meet people who are so concerned with the limits to their capacity- their time, energy, knowledge, power, resources- that I wonder why they bother at all. They spend their time explaining why they can’t do something, why they don’t have the time, all the things they don’t know, all the skills they don’t have, all the justifications for failure- or even worse, all the justifications for not trying in the first place. To make it worse they often criticise those who, even with all their inadequacies, have actually got into the arena and are expending themselves. It makes me want to scream inside and ask them
“Instead of explaining all the reasons why not, let’s ask the question ‘why not?'”
As Hans Kung said, ‘Wistfulness is no substitute for daring’. I think Roosevelt would agree and I am challenged by both.