What Are You Fighting For

British Finance Minister: We have to cut our budgets for the arts to aid our war efforts
Winston Churchill: Then what are we fighting for?

That quote is fake. Churchill did say “Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due”, which is hardly as dramatic as the first quote.

But seeing the quote do the rounds on the internet every now and then is a good reminder of what you are living for, fighting for. It may not be the arts – the human psyche is far too complex to pin a life’s purpose on any one unchanging thing – but it is certainly not the trenches you are in. There is more to life than success or failure, and there is more to being alive than closing a deal or meeting a deadline.

It took Apple’s latest ad to remind me to look out from the trenches today:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry, because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?

From The Dead Poet’s Society: