Some days are like roller coasters; some days are like the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyworld, or the movie “Groundhog Day.” Like I’m trapped in a room with an annoying loop of some stupid pop song playing. Hit me Baby one more time, one more time, one more time, one more time, noe rmeo mtie. It makes you carazy.
And what, pray tell, are we accomplishing?
Saving the world? Nah. Too big, too wide, too deep. Save that for the Justice League or those “Avengers” people. Obliviating crime? Just locally even? Not so much. Stopping child abuse? Probably not in this world.
I’ve had jobs that impacted lives, and they were rewarding once in a while, and I’ve had jobs that felt more like a hamster in a wheel, just rolling along to roll along.
Each day presents basically the same or similar problems; each day we solve them; and each day someone brings us the same problem to be solved again. It reminds me of Cool Hand Luke moving the dirt from one hole to the other and back again at the command of the warden with the mirrored sunglasses.
Once in a while, you think you’ve accomplished something – broken a family cycle of child abuse, put a violent criminal away for a long time, saved an innocent man from an overzealous government imposition maybe – but then you rise high enough to take in a broader view of the landscape, and you see thousands of clones of the same enemies, marching towards you. And you know you can’t possibly claim victory over all of them.
So Screw it. Right? But wait, Didn’t Churchill say “Never, never, never give up”?
Actually you know what? No. He didn’t. He was speaking to a group of students at a British school in October of 1941, roughly a year into World War Two. It was shortly after he became prime minister, 10 months into the war, and only two months before Japan bombarded Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Things were scary and hopeless-looking to many. What he said was not the fairly reckless, somewhat unrealistic command for which he became famous, but the following:
“But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period—I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Now THIS makes sense. In the face of everything from mundane days to reckless tweets to child abuse to simply making a living for your family, never give in. He was reminding the students, and I am reminding myself and my friends who fight for something worth fighting for, that Britain was not alone. Other nations were joining in alongside England, and other people are fighting the same battles we are, against everything from stupidity to crime to bad parenting. He was reminding people that they are not alone in adversity. On the other side of the coin, when we think we are the star of the show, and nobody does it as well as us, so we are the oh-so-vital linchpin, we would be wise to remember we are neither alone nor irreplaceable then either.
Churchill’s message still rings true today. When we feel like it’s hopeless, keep pressing and you’ll often find others joining your stride. Sometimes that never will happen, and you may have to change course when honor or good sense requires such, but more often we should stay the course.
Sometimes, like Calvin, we try to make our own adjustments to maintain sanity in the midst of the mundane routine, and sometimes we have to find alternate adjustments.
But don’t just give up.