While women weep as they do now,
While little children go hungry as they do now,
While men go to prison in and out in and out,
While there yet remains one dark soul without the light of God,
I'll fight. I'll fight to the very end.
My sport in high school was rowing. During the season we trained three nights a week and all day Saturday. There were other school sports that demanded far less but there was something worthwhile about rowing. The experience changed me. I had a cause to live for. I built relationships around a worthwhile common goal. I learnt I could push myself beyond my limits and become stronger as a result. I learnt what it meant to make a serious commitment to something. I look back on those years with pride and satisfaction even though in five years of competition we never won a major regatta.
If, during my rowing days, you had asked me to join a crew that would require much less of me, I would have turned you down. The sport would be easier but the rewards would have evaporated. I would have rather given up the sport altogether than row in such a crew. It’s not that I liked being hot and exhausted after training. But I knew there were spin-offs from commitment that would be lost if things were easier. The costs of participating in a demanding sport were higher but so were the rewards. I hand discovered the fulfillment of living for a cause beyond myself. The sense of being a part of a team, of pursuing a worthwhile outcome, of being tested and found true.
In 1980, a 37 year-old electrician climbed over the barbed wired fences of the Gdansk shipyards in Poland to join his comrades in their opposition to the Communist regime. Within ten years Lech Walensa had been elected President of Poland and the Berlin Wall had crumbled under the onslaught of demonstrators while East German guards watched. The Communist grip on the Soviet Union and its satellite states was broken. The Communist empire was not overrun by a foreign army. There was very little blood shed. The Communist powers could have obliterated their opponents with military and nuclear might. They were vastly superior to their opponents. Yet the Communist empire dissolved as quickly as it had once emerged. Proving the maxim, “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come” (Victor Hugo). History is made by people who are committed to a cause for which they are willing to lay down their lives.
In his study of religious movements, Dean Kelley found what enables religious movements to take hold is not their rationality but the demand their systems of meaning make upon their adherents and the degree to which that demand is met with commitment. “The most reasonable, most credible, most logical ideas in the world - without such demand and commitment - can never generate enough movement in human society to get one handcart over the hills to the Promised Land.”
Dynamic movements are comprised of people who have made a critical decision: they decide to 'live divided no more.’ They decide no longer to act on the outside in a way that contradicts the beliefs they hold deeply on the inside. Without such commitment, nothing would change.
What cause are you committed to?