It’s Superbowl Sunday, what better day to consider a phrase we toss about without thought of consequence. It falls naturally on the ears of the athletes, but also the soldiers, the business team, even children. In itself, it is inspiring and empowering, but in the wrong hands and in the wrong situations, it may be dangerous.
“Whatever it takes,” sounds like a noble battle cry, and wouldn’t we all aspire to be a part of something so important, so honorable, so critical that it is worthy of our all?
What if it takes maiming our body to the point that we are paralyzed or comatose or even dead, or leaving our opponent in a similar state? What if it takes cheating on the report numbers or the test or the taxes? What if it takes behavior that misleads others in order to win?
Naturally, we understand that such platitudes and sayings should not be taken literally to the extreme. But do others around us understand everything has its limits? What about the weaker among us who hear our command but take it too far?
In my novel, 7 Sanctuaries, a high school coach hears the words, 'Whatever it takes,' from the athletic director when his command-and-control model of basketball can’t compete with a run-and-shoot model that has become popular following Desegregation. He directs his team to use tactics that the boys despise, the crowd finds irritating and the community criticizes. Ultimately, they prove unsuccessful.
In my soon-to-be-released novel, The 3rd Option, a flawed character hears the ultimate ultimatum, “Whatever it takes,” and people die.
I love a good competitive game. I relish the idea of giving our very best and sacrificing heroically to accomplish a courageous goal. Commitment and sacrifice are powerful concepts.
But let’s take care to use such empty platitudes only when they truly warrant the ultimate sacrifice.
And that would be, almost never.
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