“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” (Horace Mann)


After 13 straight days on the road, I thought I would sleep well last night but for some strange reason this quote popped into my head and it’s been stuck there ever since. This is a question I have asked myself a hundred times and I never had a good answer. It troubles me because it’s very specific and shame is a powerful emotion. The older I get, the more this question haunts me and forces me to examine my life on this exact basis, “What victory have I won for humanity?”

The world we live in has so many problems and the opportunities to make a difference are unlimited so there really isn’t a good excuse for not doing more. I  can’t plead ignorance because my father and grandfather reminded me frequently to, “Leave the world better than you found it.” That seems pretty clear too but in my 58 years of life I think things have gotten worse in more ways than I can count. I fathered 2 great kids and I think they have bright futures ahead of them but is that enough of an achievement? Given our current financial situation as a country with a trillion-dollar debt, it sure seems like we just handed the next generation a huge bar tab for 50 years of profligate ways. And I’m not laying this at the feet of Congress either. I voted for these representatives and then looked the other way while they spent every penny they were given. I could have run for office myself, if I truly believed change was needed.

All of us who are lucky enough to be born with two good hands, two strong legs and common sense have no excuse for taking the path of least resistance when it comes to the country we live in. Shouting at the TV or pounding our fists on the bar when the news is bad is just wasted energy and doesn’t change anything. It might make us feel good momentarily that we voiced our opinion but until we get off the couch we haven’t done anything. And therein lies my shame. I am ashamed to say I have not lived up to the opportunity I was given by my birthright. People are literally dying to get to America and I haven’t made the most of being an American. This country needs me now more than ever in history. The mantle of responsibility that used to rest comfortably on my shoulders has hardened into a yoke of burden. We cannot do this to our children and we should all be ashamed.

I’m not writing this to point fingers because no one is more guilty than I am. I have accepted my responsibility and the pain that comes with it but my life is not over yet and I still have time to win some kind of victory before I die. Whether you join me in my quest is out of my hands. All I can do is raise the question and ask for your help. The truth is, we can leave the world better than we found it and frankly it wouldn’t be that difficult considering just how bleak things really are here now but we have to come together with a common cause just like the Founding Fathers did two centuries ago. When they wrote, “A government of the people, by the people and for the people,” they were talking about us in no uncertain terms. We don’t get to point fingers in a democratic republic. We, the people, are the only thing standing in the way of we, the people.

My shame also comes from Biblical principles that I have believed in all my life. God gave me life on a beautiful blue, spinning globe that is the only place in the universe, that we know of, where life exists. He granted me innate abilities, courage and common sense and sent me out into the world to make a difference for others. Even if you don’t subscribe to my version of creation doesn’t it make sense that helping one another and leaving the planet better than we found it is the only rational way to live? Hatred, prejudice, fear, ignorance and violence have never improved the world and they never will. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the most truthful and undeniable principle mankind has ever been given and it appears in every major religion on earth. When are we going to give it a try?

I live my life with faith in God and a firm belief that Jesus is my savior. Given that, as the basis for my existence, how can I ever give less than what he gave me. Here’s the problem though, even in his last breath he gave us much to think about when he said, “Forgive them Lord for they know not what they have done.” After 2000 years I don’t think pleading ignorance of his commandments is going to go over with God the next time we have to face our sins. I think winning some victory for mankind sounds like a good way to prove our worthiness once and for all.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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12 Responses to “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” (Horace Mann)

  1. keith reed says:

    Love it

  2. Diana says:

    Beautiful quote.

  3. ben terry says:

    This is a wonderful outcry to humanity to wake up and relearn what love is and to differentiate the evil from good causes that have their affects. Let’s rid evil forever.

  4. Byron says:

    Thank you for the post. I too was moved by Mann’a quote when I first came across it by way of a Twilight Zone episode. I am atheist. The only god I know is the universe. The universe is indifferent to pain, pleasure and whether humanity exists or not. Why should I care about humanity? If Mann is suggesting that humanity is something noble, something worth preserving, I would counter this by saying mankind is a cancer, a malignant presence on the earth that serves no other purpose than to dominate nature and in turn, destroy it. The sooner humankind is done away with, the sooner the earth and nature can begin healing itself. No, I’m afraid Mann got it all wrong. Humanity is not worth saving.

    • grhgraph says:

      Byron,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I wish I had a perfect response that would change your mind but the truth is I don’t and I won’t waste your time with platitudes about faith. The God I believe in gave us free will which means we get to choose our faith. I choose to believe humanity is worth saving but I respect your decision as well. I enjoy the challenge that comes with making a difference every day and I only wish I could do something for you too. I don’t have any grand idea about saving the whole world, I just take my responsibility one person at a time. If you need someone to talk to about your feelings, feel free to contact me at grhorst54@gmail.com.
      I won’t make any promises but I will listen.
      Guy

    • havau22 says:

      theres still a lot of good people out there,get well soon my friend.

      • grhgraph says:

        Thanks for commenting. Byron seems a little troubled to me. I know the world is not perfect but if we all just give up hope then we really are the problem. I’m not willing to believe that mankind isn’t worth saving. Jesus told us what to do, we just have to do it.
        Thanks again for reblogging my post. New readers are always welcome here.
        Guy

      • havau22 says:

        your welcome,and thank you for sharing your thoughts,excellent post,take cae and God bless,

  5. havau22 says:

    Reblogged this on Im ashamed to die until i have won some victory for humanity and commented:
    Good post,totally agree,the title of my site,did not know who said that, until someone pointed it out.

  6. Susmit Laha says:

    Just awesome post…I found your post while searching on Google for the quote….You are on FB?

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