An AM Stronghold Special: Dare to Live

katerina-radvanska-397112.jpg

Dear Brendan,

I’m going to break ranks from our current topic and talk for a moment about living with a purpose.  I’m talking about living for something greater than yourself or any one person. The sad fact is that very few men have discovered that living for something greater than themselves is the key to living a truly happy life.

We few—we happy few, happy because have found something to believe in-- never quit and never give up hope.  We stand for what we believe in and for what we hold dear in life because it’s bigger than ourselves. We live our life for something greater than ourselves.  We are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice because we know that death—and part of being a man is confronting the reality of our own death—is inevitable and not to be feared.  We fight the good fight. We fight till the end. We hold the line for all that is good in the world because we do not fear death, the ultimate reality.

Don’t kid yourself; there aren’t many of us.

The irony is that if you treat every day like it will be your last you get more, much more, out of each day. So, to keep your edge, treat every day like it’s your last, like it’s a gift, a selection and every task is a test of you against yourself.

Are you better today than you were yesterday?

We must earn our place every day and there is no free lunch. 

You may have noticed that we are a culture at war, a country at war. To win the war our country and our culture requires some sacrifice on all our parts to protect, defend, and safeguard our freedoms, our values and our way of life.  Some of us will be asked to make small sacrifices, others will be asked to make great sacrifices. Some people will tell you that I am speaking in terms that are too black and white. However, increasingly the choices that confront us are very stark.

Broken down to its simplest terms, this is a war between good and evil, black and white. Many people today want to say there’s no good and evil, no right and wrong, no black and white, that it’s all grey, but that’s not true.

A friend of mine used to say, “There’s no grey, some people just need a brighter flashlight.”

Have no doubt on this: all the chips are on the table and it’s winner take all.  In this struggle that is taking place all around us, there are no mistakes, only consequences because the other side is evil.  Great danger lies in the notion that we can reason with evil.  We cannot.

However, here is what we can and must do as men. We must prepare to defend and care for the elderly, the vulnerable, the young, the sick and for women who cannot care for themselves.  That may sound like a bumper sticker saying, but it’s true. To do this we must be clear about our values and convictions and hold strong to them. Remember we have talked about Honor-Courage-Commitment.  Our actions must reflect the meanings of these words, so dig deep down inside yourself where that fire burns and seize the moment for all that you love and hold dear in this life. 

Every day.

There is a saying that much of what we do in life is insignificant, but we still must do it. A lot of life is boring, routine and important. However, big things turn on small things and we can’t all always be doing the great, big, noticeable things in life. What we can do, though, is do the small things in a great way. This war we are fighting is going to be a long war.  It will be difficult, rough, and violent.  It will challenge some of us in ways we may not have been challenged in the past.  That can’t discourage us. We must carry on no matter what the conditions.  Remember courage is largely a matter of endurance. Endurance for a moment longer. 

Never forget that everything is on the line and failure is not an option.

Keep this in mind as you step back and think about all we have discussed. We never put ourselves before our family or our team.  Our family, our team, is precious beyond words and must be treated as such.  I read once that the man who will not fight for his family doesn’t deserve to have a family. I like that, but we are not often asked to fight physically for our family. Sometimes it’s a more difficult fight. It’s a fight that demands we put ourselves second.  In so doing we put others first. We take care of our family.  We have a moral and ethical obligation to enable our family, to strengthen them and position them for success in life.  We must ensure they have the tools, training, skill sets, the physical means to do what they are called upon to do in their own lives. This is one of the privileges of being men. I call it keeping balanced. We balance our professional life and family life and help other good men to do the same. 

This—building a stronghold—is, after all, about others. It’s about our family.

Take it upon yourself, therefore, to try with all you have to be proficient in all that you do.  As men we should set the tone, lead from the front and never ask others to do something we would not be willing to do.

Let me tell you a short story about someone you know.  Way back when, before you were born, there was a young Army lieutenant that used to tell his troops to pray for war. It seemed to motivate them and he told them when they saluted they should say, “Pray for war.”

Intense? Yes. He’ll tell you now he was young and a little too intense, but it’s revealing. I asked him why he would have his men say such a thing. He told me he was trying to instill intensity in his men. His attitude was, “When a war starts you don’t want reluctant soldiers. You want soldiers who want to close with and kill the enemy. You want intensity, you want ferocity and no hesitation.”

Pretty tough to argue with that. His commander told him to stop having his men say that and of course he gave that order and they stopped, but I love that story.

That young Army officer was your father. It’s easy to misinterpret what your father was trying to instill in those men, but there was a deeper meaning to what he was saying, something beyond what was on the surface.  I encourage you to ask your father directly and have that conversation with him man to man. Ask him yourself what he was trying to get his men to understand in urging them to pray for war. I know he would be honored to speak with you about it in more detail. 

The difference between victory and defeat often comes down to will power and endurance.

Remember that courage can be defined as endurance for one moment longer.

We are rebuilding something truly great here and I want you to be proud of the important role you and every good man is playing in ensuring a future full of hope and promise.  Live happily and love strongly every day and protect all that is good.

STRENGTH – FAITH – FREEDOM

See you on the high ground,

Travis