The true artist can finally articulate a vision of what humanity can trust. In the midst of alienation, the artist can brig community and in the midst of ugliness, beauty. The artist, in short, acts not only as a voice of protest but also as a voice of hope.
Today you cannot effectively fight for freedom and not be attacked, and those who think they can are deceiving themselves. While I do not believe in stepping out of the path of duty to pick up a cross I do not need, a man is a coward who refuses to pick up a cross that clearly lies within his path.
A man must not only stand for the right principles, but he must also fight for them. Those who fight for principle can be proud of the friends they've gained and the enemies they've earned.
Those who have succumbed to this kind of personal disaster often find that the balance in their lives becomes somewhat tilted and uneven. Many people expend far too much precious energy in protesting the rules. Since they did not make the rules, some feel that they should not be restricted by them. Others make a game of testing the fences to see what they can get away with. Some think that by breaking the rules they somehow become stronger or independent. Those who fight the rules spend much time and energy trying to express independence in their quest to find identity. And having traveled far down this road, they find that this is not the road to freedom but to slavery.
Talents, gifts of expression, and precious time are exhausted in swimming against too many tides. I have no hesitancy in suggesting that young men can learn to express themselves better through excellence in the classroom or on the playing field than in gangs or in immoral behavior. Young women can obtain a better identity and receive better notice through academic excellence and artistic expression than through immodesty of dress.
There are times when each of us has to have some gumption to take a stand as to what we wish to preserve or change in order to maintain our self-respect and not be as “a reed shaken with the wind” (Matt. 11:7). We need to take our great stands in life on moral issues and not kick against insignificant matters, appearing to be eccentric or unbalanced or immature. We lose much credibility and strength, and we risk being weighed on an uneven balance, when, Don Quixote–like, we go around “tilting windmills.”
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