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On 23 April 1910, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech (Citizenship in a Republic) at the Sorbonne Paris, France.  One notable passage on page seven of the 35-page speech is referred to as “The Man 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. 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.

A person who is heavily involved in situations which require courage, skill, or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), are sometimes referred to as “the man in the arena.”  In pipe band life, we can refer to this as “the band in the circle”

The speech emphasized his belief that the success of a republic rested not on the brilliance of its citizens but on disciplined work and character; the quality of its people. He told the audience: “Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution—these are the qualities which mark a masterful people.” And importantly, a democracy needed leaders of the highest caliber in order to hold the average citizen to a high standard. They were to do this not by words alone but by their deeds as well. “Indeed, it is a sign of marked political weakness in any commonwealth if the people tend to be carried away by mere oratory, if they tend to value words in and for themselves, as divorced from the deeds for which they are supposed to stand.”

Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.”

We love this! And its true – BECAUSE EVEN IF WE FAIL (which we don’t really believe in because failure just means we have to try our approach in a different form) – NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM US THE EXPERIENCES WE CONTINUE TO GAIN. and it makes us that much bigger, stronger, and more prepared for the next contest.

So cheers, to the blood, sweat, and tears required in pipe band life. Without it, we wouldn’t appreciate the days to celebrate success.  Thank you to all of our members for a resolute weekend.




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