CALL TO ARMS
Essays and exhortations.
There is an empty pedestal in the park blocks of Portland, Oregon where a statue of Teddy Roosevelt once stood. On it is inscribed: “Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider”. There used to be an equestrian statue of Teddy on it, riding erect and proud in his uniform atop a noble steed. It was torn down in 2020, during the “Indigenous day of rage” protests.
Why was it toppled? The easy answer is because it was there, and the mob needed something to destroy. Maybe it was his comments on and policies regarding natives, although the fact that “slave owner” has since been graffitied onto the pedestal calls their historical literacy into question. Maybe it was something deeper.
Beneath the inscription of Teddy’s name there is a plaque which reads:
HE WAS FOUND FAITHFUL OVER A FEW THINGS AND HE WAS MADE RULER OVER MANY. HE WAS FRAIL; HE MADE HIMSELF A TOWER OF STRENGTH. HE WAS TIMID; HE MADE HIMSELF A LION OF COURAGE. HE WAS A DREAMER; HE BECAME ONE OF THE GREAT DOERS OF ALL TIME. MEN PUT THEIR TRUST IN HIM; WOMEN FOUND A CHAMPION IN HIM; KINGS STOOD IN AWE OF HIM, BUT CHILDREN MADE HIM THEIR PLAYMATE. HE BROKE A NATION’S SLUMBER WITH HIS CRY, AND IT ROSE UP. SOULS BECAME SWORDS THROUGH HIM; SWORDS BECAME SERVANTS OF GOD. HE WAS LOYAL TO HIS COUNTRY, AND HE EXACTED LOYALTY; HE LOVED MANY LANDS, BUT HE LOVED HIS OWN LAND THE BEST. HE WAS TERRIBLE IN BATTLE, BUT TENDER TO THE WEAK; JOYOUS AND TIRELES,
Who can read this and not be humbled and inspired? Who can ask more of anyone than to realize their own faults and make it their life’s work to correct and overcome them? To face life head on with courage and honor? This is a brief biography of a complex man, but nevertheless an inspiring portrait. Statuary can only be partial, a single moment of a great life made eternal.
The subject of their ire speaks volumes about those who defaced this monument. To hate that which is great, which asks, nay demands the best of you. That is the feeling of small, mean minds. Teddy on his horse soars with the triumph of the human soul, the potential to which we’re called, and which the protestors gave up on.
Anything or anyone which puts the responsibility for their station in their hands is unacceptable, because it reminds them of what they could have been but chose not to be. They exist in a culture of ‘self love’ expressed as self acceptance. Not the harsh real love that Teddy had for his men or his country, a love that demands something of you. It is self neglect, self spoiling. A child who is never told “no”.
It is too much then, to see an image of a man so proud, so noble, standing defiant against the challenges of life. For those who have surrendered hate nothing more than a reminder of their own capitulation. Why be strong when you can be weak? Why have courage when you can be timid? Why have virtue when you can have apathy? It is easy, and it is what they did. Living small lives, unworthy of remembrance. That is what they hate most of all.
That anyone should be worthy of a monument is unacceptable, because they are not. So they search and seethe for any failure (by modern standards of course), any mistake, pulling down men who dwarf them in spirit and character and say “See! See! He was not perfect!” as if this is some major revelation. To have flaws is to be human, but to do great things in spite of mere humanity makes you a hero, and heroes deserve monuments.
We should all aspire to be monumental. To live lives and do deeds worth commemoration. Life is not meant to be lived merely to “be”. We must become. Become who we can be, who we dream of being. We must strive to positively impact the world however we can, while making ourselves heroes of character and spirit.
Mean souls will always seek to tear down those of stature, but if enough remain to imitate and admire the heroes who went before, we will build new heroes worthy of new monuments.
Great souls build others up, they make others feel that they too can be great.
I am in the Zone all the time.
There is no one coming to save you.
In life we are ultimately alone. You are the only one who can act on your behalf. Social, familial and community ties provide encouragement and consequences for us to act a certain way. But in the end it is only us who can decide what we will do, and us alone who can do it.
Free will exists, but some have more of it than others. That is to say that some have a more powerful grip on themselves or do not allow obligations or society to exercise such a strong grip over them. The temptation to allow the community to guide one’s life and actions is overwhelming for many, it is just so easy. Even those with a strong spirit often follow these paths out of convenience or personal weakness.
The ability to rule oneself ennobles man above anything. No one is going to help you. You are in the Zone and only you decide how you will respond. “The Zone” refers to a colloquial name given by prisoners of the gulag system in the USSR to the area in which their brutal violent imprisonment occurred. I use this to refer to the modern world, more specifically the material world of the west. This “Zone” is much less violent and harsh, but it is infinitely more insidious and corrupting.
Constantly whispering sweetly in your ear to take the easy path, to relax, to indulge. It is a vicious fight against the neverending encouragement to comfort. I have failed many times, and I know many great men who have failed too. No one is there to save you from slipping slowly into an easy doom.
One can ward themselves, good friends of strong character can encourage, inspire, and even intervene when troubles come but they cannot do it for you. The individual acts alone of their own will. Good friends should be sought and kept to stoke the fire, a lone branch may be broken but a bundle is robust. Yet if you truly surrender to weakness and comfort they cannot save you. There is no one coming to save you.
When you are alone. When there is no one watching and no obligation to resist the sweet gentle comfort. This is the Zone. Instead of violence and starvation it is a slow and easy descent into numb suffering. A constant agony kept dull with a trickle of pleasure. If the pain was too sharp or the pleasure too euphoric it might break the cycle and drive action. But with both just enough to drive the other, pain to seek the pleasure and pleasure to numb the pain, they can drag even the strongest down into desensitized despair.
No amount of outside pressure can completely protect from this, the agency of the individual is supreme. There is no one else. There is nowhere else. The Zone is everywhere. It does not need walls because you build the walls yourself. Every instance of giving in adds another stone to keep you in.
Resistance is possible. You have to resist. You must never surrender. There will be mistakes. Major failures, great pain and suffering and defeats but there is no other option than to keep fighting for yourself. There is no one coming to save you. Remember where you are and act accordingly. Lash out with rage and hatred, dig deep to find the strength to act. I am in the Zone all the time. Always weary, always ready. Rising from defeats with doubled efforts and determination. I will fail again, but I will never surrender.
Victory over this malaise of comfort-wrapped-despair is in extremes. Terrible highs and devastating lows. Real feeling, real life, in its raw and brutal reality. Seek out these extremes by any means necessary, and take heart in defeat knowing that you alone are responsible for your fate. No surrender, no quarter, no support. Victory lies within.