Don't change who you are. Be more of who you are - Sally Hogshead
Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw
Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw

Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw

2020 has been a year unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. We have seen a pandemic that has cost us so much. We have seen rioting that reminds us of some of the darkest times in American history. We’ve also seen political unrest and incivility unlike anything I’ve seen in our lifetime. Why? What has changed? Why in this time of such great need are we so divided and exhibiting such prolonged outrage? Perhaps, as Dan Crenshaw has written, we lack fortitude and resiliency.

Crenshaw currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 2nd congressional district of Texas. Prior to that he served as a Navy Seal with Seal Team 3. After a career ending injury in Afghanistan, he attended Harvard and expanded his public service to include politics.

At a time like this, when so many are divided along political lines – not just party lines as there are political ideologies and philosophical persuasions as well, it would be easy to see this book as a defense of the Republicans or conservative ideologies. That is simply not the case. Crenshaw is writing about the expansion of what he calls outrage culture. He further states that he is not referring to proper outrage about real tragedies, injustice, and political wrongdoing. Instead, he is addressing the tendency of many to simply remain outraged and assume the worst in those perceived to represent opposing ideologies. 

As can be expected, Crenshaw does take the time to introduce himself, his family, and the experiences that have brought him to this point in life. He grew up in Texas, Ecuador and Columbia. He lost his mother to cancer at a very early age. He survived Seal training and three tours in Afghanistan. After attending graduate school at Harvard, he entered political service and maintains an active role in his community – in person and online. 

While the read has been fascinating to this point, it gets better as the reader learns that this is more than a counter-attack…more than book simply throwing stones at the current “outrage culture” but rather a set of principles that all of us can live by and implement immediately. The following are some of the key principles:

Be Still – At a time when we seem almost drawn to those that rage the loudest and when social shaming has become the norm, Crenshaw encourages us all to take a moment and be still. This moment may allow us to see what is really happening rather than just respond to the emotion of the moment. Additionally, throughout the book we are encouraged to avoid assuming the worst intentions from others.

A Right Sense of Shame – While we live in an era of public shaming via social media, we lack a proper sense of shame. Far too many people apologize to the masses for their behavior when they shouldn’t and fail to offer proper apologies when they should. In essence, we’ve become accustomed to public figures basically apologizing for getting caught while innocent people apologize because someone claims offense. 

A Sense of Duty – There are many people that have a sense of duty to someone or something. Healthy individuals have a sense of duty to their family. Many have a sense of duty to their church. Crenshaw and others in the service have a sense of duty to their country. When he writes that a sense of duty can unite a group, we are encouraged to reflect on how that unity can benefit a country as diverse as the US.

Do Something Hard – Throughout the book, Crenshaw has reminded readers that no generation in America has had it better than us. Crime is lower in many communities. Most of us do not have to wonder where food or water will come from. Our early lives are very protected (possibly too protected). Accordingly, we are challenged to do something that challenges us – self-imposed challenges that can build fortitude.

This book offers many nuggets of truth and encouragement. Every chapter contains stories that the reader may find encouraging, inspirational, or at least thought-provoking. References and quotes should encourage us all to seek out other books and resources to grow and build resiliency. Again, this book isn’t about politics – it is about living resilient lives of fortitude.

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