A Great Battle

“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

{Attributed to Plato but it’s more likely Ian MacLaren}

I have always loved this quote and the way it challenges and evokes our empathy, our appreciation of the truth that most of the time someone else has it tougher than we do. I would not have imagined it could be improved upon until I stumbled across this “amended” version in a Portland card shop:

“They say that everyone’s fighting a hard battle.
But not a cool battle like with swords,
The kind that’s in your brain and you’re afraid of everything.”

Besides being great for a laugh it gets to the heart of things more directly and more explicitly. Wouldn’t you like to pull out a long sword and take your biggest fear down with a single blow? That would be pretty cool.

But we don’t get to do that. We can’t dominate our fear physically, we can’t dominate it cognitively, we can only face it – if we are willing to face it – with a disarmed awareness that is cultivated by the vulnerable act of naming it. By naming it we make it small, or at least bring it down to size, and that smaller size is something we can work with.

Eventually, not so scary after all.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.