In Search of Our Fighting Spirit
It’s no secret that I love old books. I love them to absolute distraction – especially historical non-fiction. As a history buff, I simply cannot get enough. My favorite era to read about is the Civil War era, possibly because one of my greatest non-Biblical/non-family heroes is Abraham Lincoln and one of my greatest non-Biblical/non-family heroines is Harriet Tubman.
I collect any and every book written about these two outstanding individuals in any and every form. Their bravery, boldness, compassion for others, and refusal to back down is the stuff that heroes and heroines are made of. I recently read a great Max Lucado quote that made me think of Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln (as well as other individuals of their caliber):
“To lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado
Each knew what was right and no one was going to get in their way of carrying it through. Oh how I love fighters! Not the bullies of the world, don’t get me wrong. Bullies aren’t what I call “fighters.” They’re cowards, nuisances, plagues on society, and pains in the a$$.
Fighters are the ones who fight for something worth fighting for. Fighters stand up for other people, things they believe in, and – when necessary – for themselves.
My husband frequently buys old books. For one thing, he’s a public domain expert, so it’s part of his livelihood – for another, his wife is obsessed with old books, so it’s a part of his happy-hood. Anyway, I’m in the middle of reading one of these books (Abe Lincoln Grows Up by Carl Sandburg, Copyright 1926). A few nights ago I came across a passage that reminded me of my love for fighters:
In chapter 2, Abraham Lincoln’s father (Tom Lincoln) is looking for a bride. This was around the late 1790′s or the very early 1800′s. As the book words it, “Tom Lincoln was looking for a woman to travel through life with, for better or worse.”
Tom visited a farmer (with lovely daughters) named Christopher Bush. Mr. Bush, we’re told was a hard-working man who came from German parents. He had raised a family which included sons that, clearly, could be classified as fighters. The author refers to these boys as “sons with muscle.”
Here is the sentence that jumped off the page at me:
“There was no back-out in them; they never shunned a fight when they considered it necessary; and nobody ever heard one of them cry, ‘Enough.’”
… No back-out in them. Don’ t you just love that? You know me well enough to know where I’m headed with this one, right?
I’m just wondering if we have, as a general rule, gotten too soft. Not all of us, of course – but enough to make the question worthwhile.
Think back, for a moment, about what life was like for farmers in the day of Tom Lincoln and Christopher Bush. They worked from the moment their feet hit the floor to the moment their head hit the pillow. Soft hands? Forget about it. Soft wills? Even more outrageous.
So, here’s another question, What do you think farmers in the 1800′s would think of us today? Would they shake their heads with disgust or would they just laugh at us? I’m not entirely sure they wouldn’t want to take some of us out behind the barn. (“Come on, Pa, let me whip him... He needs a whipping… Look at him!“)
- What would they think of workers who leave work at 4:30 because that extra 30 minutes is just asking too much from them?
- What would they think of people who want more money for less work?
- What would they think of people who want the government to pay for their food, housing, bills, and anything else they can get from them?
- What would they think of parents who say they don’t spank their disobedient children because it’ll break their spirit? (I can almost hear a father from the 1800′s saying, “I won’t break it, but he darn sure won’t be able to sit on it for a while.“)
- What would they think of a generation of kids who’ve never had chores? A generation that would roll their eyes at their parents if the word was even mentioned.
- What would they think about the Bible being deemed “unfit” for schools? (The individuals behind that idiocy would be the first ones taken behind the barn.)
Many families during this time were like this Bush family. They didn’t throw in the towel and never said, “Enough.”
They had no “back out” in them.
They fought for what was right and they stood their ground. How many times have we all done the exact opposite? Whether we find ourselves on a political, national, or family battlefield – how often do we just go, “Eh. It’s someone else’s fight. Frankly I’m tired.”
Look at all the books centered around living in a state of Zen, relaxation, peace, and so forth. I think a lot of people are tired. They want peace. They want tranquility. They want quiet. And there’s nothing wrong with any of these things.
All I’m saying is this: Along the way, don’t ever, ever, ever lose your fighting spirit. Don’t lose the spark that is ready to stand up for yourself, your loved ones, or your beliefs.
Don’t get soft.
Oh, sure, we’ve made countless advances. We’ve learned, we’ve grown, and we’ve overcome. However… I still can’t help but wonder what Christopher Bush would have said about us and to us. I, for one, am certain we would have learned a thing or two.