America recorded the birth of its 26th President one hundred sixty-five years ago this past week. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was a statesman, soldier, conservationist, naturalist, historian, and writer who led a progressive movement from within the Republican party. His “square deal” domestic policies called for conservation of natural resources, control of corporations through sensible regulation, and consumer protection. His many accomplishments included establishing the national park service, enacting anti-trust laws, and instituting numerous legal provisions for food safety. His successful efforts to broker peace for the Russo-Japanese War garnered him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.
Today, I honor him for a particularly inspiring quote from his Man in the Arena speech:
“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
In a time characterized by an unending supply of critics on social media and elsewhere and its deleterious impact on the character of the nation, I hope and pray that those who speak truth to power take inspiration from a man who ranks consistently among the country’s greatest Presidents.