One of my favorite movies is the often maligned “Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World”. I think it is about the most accurate depiction of life at sea on board a Royal Navy Frigate during the Napoleonic Wars as can be produced. In one of the scenes is an old Jack Tar who has seen many years before the mast. Wizened and carved by the elements, this old salt has tattooed across his hands the words, “Hold Fast”. In his age, he had to, just to survive. He held fast to the rigging, else he would have fallen to his death many a time. He had seen the roughest life could be, and yet he was still ticking along.
So, why the reference; have you been watching the news lately? Our nation is before the mast; we are facing the highest winds, the most frightening waves, we are storm tossed, rudderless. The helm of state is hard over all the way, but we cannot turn. Like the Titanic, we face nothing short of icy Armageddon. This is not about politics. I am not being political. The facts present themselves, I am merely interpreting them.
If you except my interpretation, then as chaos erupts about us, what should you do? As the old Jack Tar said, you hold fast. You hold fast to those truths that are irrefutable, you hold fast to those things which will lift you up, you hold fast to those people who will stand with you. If you are a person of faith, hold fast to that. If you are a skeptic, hold fast to that. Pragmatism, honest questioning, fair play, the essentials of human decency are our rigging, and we are going to hold fast to them.
Nations will rise and fall, the sea of history is one of conflict and turmoil, with brief moments of glacial calm. As the ship that is our nation is tossed about in the storms of economic chaos, we must hold fast. We must hold fast to our freedom, we must hold fast to justice, we must hold fast to our reason. When we are beset by storms, and the inexplicable events of life, it is our reason, the sapient part of our humanity, which must prevail. It is too easy to just surrender to the insanity, too simple to let go and stop fighting. The hardest thing to do is to hold fast.
Yes, our muscles ache. Yes, our calloused hands are bleeding. Yes, we are tired. But if we let go we will die. We will die as sure as if we had fallen from the rigging. Freedom and prosperity are not easy, they are hard won. They require focus and management, they need tending. Our moral imperative is to maintain what was given to us for the next generation, so they can bring it forward to the next. This is the way of things.
So what do you do when the rain falls from the sky, the seas rise from their depths, and the very pillars of heaven shake? As the man says, “You’d better hold fast.”