This week I read a quote of President Theodore Roosevelt’s used to support the view that requiring a child to wear a mask to school violated his rights as an American. He and other like-minded people were facing heat and personal attacks because of their stand.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Now, TR did say that. It was in a speech from 1910. I can’t ask him, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about a mandate meant to save people’s lives. It is apparent to me that if doctors and nurses wear masks to prevent airborne diseases during surgery, average citizens can surely do the same to try to stop a pandemic never before faced by people on the earth. I would not fight for the “right” to keep my mask off. I might fight those who insisted it was an inherent freedom, however.
I always thought things worth fighting for were are basic rights which have already been fought for: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; freedoms of speech, press, and religion, and others outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Anybody can google a famous quote and try to use it to support an opinion. It takes more effort to research the context and the times in which it was used. TR was speaking to the Iowa State Teachers’ Association in Des Moines. The Great War was looming in Europe.
Earlier in 1910, Roosevelt gave this speech in Paris, “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.”|
These words could also be misconstrued to support different beliefs. But let’s use common sense and responsibility to prioritize those beliefs, and to do battle for what really is important.