On this day in 1910, Former President Theodore Roosevelt gave his "The Man in the Arena" speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. In a world with just a few fragile democracies at that time, his words were a beacon of light.
The most often quoted section from which the speech gets its title is as follows:
"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."The section just preceding that, gives a bit more insight into Roosevelts thoughts:
"There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance."
Like the man himself, the speech is bigger than life, barrel-chested and in your face. It challanges the prevailing thoughts head on and gives a road-map to a world the way it should be, aggressive, honest, achieving, and fair - calling on each and every one of us to step into that arena, sleeves rolled up.
If you have the opportunity please read it in its entirety here:
The Historical Inebriant: The Rough Rider*
- 1 ½ oz Havana Club Blanco Cuban Rum**
- ½ oz Tanqueray gin
- 1 oz Roses Kola Tonic
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
* In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt resigned his post as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to volunteer to head a cavalry unit that would fight in Cuba against Spain in the 1898 Spanish-American War. The unit was eventually known as "Roosevelt's Rough Riders" taken from Buffalo Bill's famous rodeo show "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World".