Theodore Roosevelt

The Man Who Is Actually In The Arena

"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." —Theodore Roosevelt

I know I usually start my Sunday reflections with a Bible verse, but today I have chosen to offer a quote from one of our great presidents who knew what it meant to risk it all in service to our country.

It begins, “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.

After more than 20 years in the Texas political arena, I know that, sadly, our state (and maybe even our species) is overpopulated with critics and naysayers who find it easier to disparage the efforts of leaders than to affirm and encourage them as they do what is right for the whole state, not just their particular political sect. (Incidentally, some of them have made a very nice living doing so.)

In the very recent past, the critics have come out in force to disparage and censure one of the great governors our state has known. I think of Governor Greg Abbott when I read the rest of the quote:

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.

Theodore Roosevelt

Today, as our state battles a resurgent pandemic, political nincompoops have chosen to waste time and energy drafting resolutions to censure a man who has been working around the clock for the past four months to protect our state from a deadly virus.

Following a decision making regimen rooted in the best available science, gathering the insights of experts in fields ranging from viral epidemiology to logistics, he has cut a purposeful path for our state.

If he made any mistake, it was trusting those those so-called conservatives who profess to value life to do what is necessary to protect life. Instead, hordes of self-righteous Twitter MDs and self-made constitutional scholars have decided to plant their puny flags on ant hills, willing to fight to the death (typically not their own death, but those they might cause with their recklessness), over the issue of wearing masks.

Others have simply just willfully ignored the guidelines, drunkenly clustering unprotected, accelerating the spread of this disease across our state.

So, here Texas stands, with our hospital ICUs filling to the point of overflowing and the death toll mounting, yet the dullards who have disregarded sound guidance and exacerbated the problems with their selfishness are now pointing the finger of blame at the man they ignored when he guided them in their best interest. I picture them as Otter in the movie, “Animal House,” when he smugly said, “you (messed) up: you trusted us.”

Those “cold and timid souls” have always been around, and sadly, probably always will be, unless they, too, fall prey to this disease.

I, for one, have chosen to tune them out and continue doing what’s best for my family, my district and my state. I recommend that people of good conscience do the same, ignoring the attacks on our governor and joining with your fellow Texans in relying on health care best practices like social distancing, hand washing and mask-wearing to beat this pandemic once and for all.

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