I love this quote by Theordore 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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt
Yesterday I was speaking with a girlfriend about a man who runs an establishment I am not particularly fond of. I don't know this man. I've heard lots of conjecture, lots of criticism of him, his business practices and his business. But I've never personally met him.
Still, I criticize him. I deride his business. I question his ethics.
But I've never met him and those I listen to who cast aspersions on his character have never met him either.
My girlfriend is doing some work for him. She met with him yesterday and was telling me about his sincerity and compassion. "I believe he was telling the truth when he told me, I really care about these people. I want to help them."
Like me, my girlfriend had heard the rumours, conjectures, criticisms about this man and went to meet him with a preconceived idea of who she would encounter. She came away humbled.
I work for a homeless shelter. Everyday I hear things about this man that paint a picture of an unfeeling, uncaring, unethical person.
I believed these things without ever asking the man himself about if any of it is true.
It makes me pause and think.
How many times do I simply believe gossip. Other people's opinions. What other people say about someone without stepping into the ring and finding my own truth? How many times do I stand with the critics and point out the failures and stumbles of those actually in the arena, their faces marred by dust and sweat and blood.
For today, my goal is to be the wrestler lying on the mat, panting for breath, his spirit towering above the spectators who cheer him on, or boo him for lying down. For today, my goal is to participate. Not spectate.
May we all know the great enthusiams of taking our best shot and never giving up on doing our best. May we all feel the great devotions that break our hearts and force them open to love, and the joy of knowing, in victory or defeat we gave it our all and have achieved our best.