Why We Should Never Give Up

Many people become jaded or give up because they feel like they can’t make a significant difference in the world or even in their own lives. I have felt this way before in my life, as most of us probably have at some point. But I have recognized the senselessness of it, even in a world filled with injustice. I have mentioned this Howard Zinn quote before, but I think it’s worth another mention because of its relevance here:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. 

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.

The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” – Howard Zinn

I think this quote is significant for several reasons. Howard Zinn was a great historian and activist. Part of what made him so great was his willingness to not only illuminate very dark parts of history, but also to shine a light on those trying to make a difference, because he knew this was just as important to keep those efforts going and multiply them. I think it is equally important to remember our own accomplishments, so we don’t forget we tried, we succeeded, and we can do it again. How much difference one person can make is largely determined by their own beliefs about their power to make change. Great leaders aren’t born great. They struggle but believe enough in what they do to persist and never give up. Too many people sadly just stop trying because they feel like they can’t make a significant difference. They’ll give in to a job, relationship, or lifestyle they hate. They’ll loathe themselves. They will become their own worst enemy. But most people do their best, and we ought to be our own best advocates. Even when we engage in self-destructive behaviors, it doesn’t make sense to simply berate ourselves about it, but instead think logically, compassionately and critically about ways to change.

We are all just still learning everyday about how to treat ourselves and others and reach the world we want. The answers aren’t obvious. It can be easy to be hard on yourself when you’re not in a place you want to be in life. But valuing your positive traits is just as important as working on your flaws. The potential for change will always exist. But only with relentless determination, compassion, and critical thinking can that change come, so never give up. There is incredible potential in the world. It’s worth working for.

Some people take the permanent solution to temporary problems and take their own lives. Too many good people have attempted suicide or killed themselves, including friends of mine, friends of friends, and relatives, so this is a personal issue for me. I think it is for all of us in some way. I believe it is selfish to kill yourself, because it hurts so many people. Even if you don’t think there are people who care about you, there most likely are. So if you are ever considering suicide, forget about your struggle and hell or heaven if you believe in them. Instead, think about what you will leave behind on this Earth.

That said I will be mad if you kill yourself. I suppose that threat won’t matter much if you’re dead, but I will give an unflattering, bitter eulogy at your funeral. Believe me. Too many people already die. No matter how hard life gets, you have to keep trying because countless people before us did and countless people continue to do so that we can live in a more equal and free world. It should go without saying that those efforts matter, and we ought to continue them because they make sense. Considering more than our own individual selves makes sense. Reach out to those who you’re close to or anyone at all before you think about taking your own life. Look around you. Run if you have to but keep living and trying. You are not the problem.

2 responses to “Why We Should Never Give Up

  1. Great piece, Adam! I really like the positive message you are sending out. Too many people fail to objectively analyze their self worth and in so doing miss out on an opportunity to contribute to society. We all do have something to offer, however great or small, that is worth putting forth into the world and this piece serves as an apt reminder of that fact. Well said.

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