This article has been submitted by Sohini Chatterjee for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
Choices. Life demands that we make choices. Choose. Coffee or tea, blueberry cheesecake or carrot salad, call or text, Fred or George, splurge or save, blue pill or red pill, engineering or law, punctual or late, merge in or stand out, lie or say the truth, Congress or BJP, Reactionary or Radical, give in or go on, yes or no. More often than not, it comes down to two choices. It’s either this or that. And the choices we make will make all the difference. They have the potential to alter the course of our life to an unimaginable extent.
“ I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”
– Forrest Gump
We have always been taught to be satisfied and thankful for what we have. Though I agree with this in principle, I do have a problem with this axiom. If we all were to be satisfied with whatever we have, mankind would register little progress. It is the urge for something more that spurs us to go that extra mile. The dream of a better future, the hope of something even more wonderful than the present has to offer. The lure of the new and the unexplored. That is what should prevent us from being completely satisfied. Complete satisfaction leads to complacency and complacency leads to stagnation.
“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.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
In April, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech on “Citizenship in a Republic” in Paris. Among other things, he spoke of The Critic and The Man in the Arena. This quotation had inspired me at a time when the future looked pretty bleak as I had so much counting on just one examination – CLAT. There was nothing else I wanted as much and nothing else would do. The Doubters remarked “But look here, the chances are very slim.” The Realists said, “Think about it practically. You need to have back ups. You’re being foolish and impractical by risking so much”. “What if it doesn’t work out?” But only one thing resonated in my mind. “What if it does?” And that was enough.
Who are The Critics? They are the ones who tell you how you’re doing it wrong. They are the ones who will never miss a chance to bring you down and let you know how it could have been done better. They are the ones who will be intent on bursting your bubble and bringing you back to reality.
Who is The Man in The Arena? This is the guy who refuses to be average. He is the face in the crowd. He shuns mediocrity and aspires to be the best he can possibly be. He could never see as others saw and had never done something just because everyone else was doing it. He is the one who had realised long back that it is easy to be satisfied when one has tame ambitions. If one aims to be average, one will seldom be disappointed. The problem arises when one dreams great dreams. The Man in The Arena has resolved to not let the herd mentality and mediocrity all around him interfere with his dreams. It is not that he makes no mistakes. After all, mistakes are just a part of the process. He lets his dream transport him from the acme of ecstasy to the depths of despair. His enthusiasm and conviction shine through his eyes. Of course he realises that there exists a prospect of failure. He understands that there is a possibility that his dream might shatter and the detractors will celebrate it as their own personal victory. But what the detractors will never understand is that he is far above them and the mediocre majorities. For they have never known victory or defeat because they did not dare to challenge themselves. The Man in the Arena will either see the dream he risked everything for come true, or he would have failed after daring and trying valiantly.
Choices. Life demands that we make choices. Whether you want to be satisfied with being average or not. Whether you want to be like the rest or not. Whether you want to do something just because everyone else is doing it. Whether you believe in your dream enough, so as to withstand attacks from all quarters, and yet manage to transform it into a vivid reality. Whether you can disregard the pessimists, naysayers, critics, sceptics, cynics and do what you believe will bring you happiness. Whether you want to be The Man in the Arena or not. Choose.
Batch of 2016,
National University of Juridical Sciences.