“The Strenuous Life” in the 21st century

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
—  Theodore Roosevelt

In the speech “The Strenuous Life” delivered in Apr 10, 1899, Theodore Roosevelt had thrashed out at the prospects of a human being thinking of living a life of ease.He condemns the man who shirks from hardship, toil and danger in the harshest terms and explains how such a man loses out ‘the ultimate triumph of success’.
Though Roosevelt spoke about the American perspective, I think his thoughts were valid for every nation on earth and most importantly the people who build up the nations; the citizen who is the fundamental part of it.
Roosevelt further advocates that people who come from wealth must teach their children to not lead a life of idleness. Since, they don’t have to work for their livelihood, they can contribute towards the development of the sciences or the arts , which are of utmost importance for the development of a country.
However, parts of his speech do not hold much of a significance in today’s atmosphere. Delivered in the 19th century, it advocated the roles of “maternity” and that of a “housewife” for a woman asking her to bear her responsibilities well and not shy away from the fear of motherhood and housework.
Further into the speech, he ventured into the socio-political aspects of different mindsets that can build or break a nation.
So the bottom line of this great speech when considered at an individualistic level is if you huddle yourself smug and content with your little life, others around you will explore and expand their boundaries. They will adapt to change and will survive and succeed in the long run. But you will soon drift into oblivion and no one will miss your absence. So its better to have tried something than to be considered a failure all throughout your life and beyond.

Note: This is the first essay of a series of short-essays based on great speeches.

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