My son is hypercompetitive, to the point where he'll sometimes bow out of an activity, rather than run the risk of failing. In the same vein, if an activity is not going well, he'll often do what all children do: quit. To combat this tendency, I recite a little epigram for him that is good for keeping him on track. Whenever he comes up to me saying that he won't participate in an activity because he's not going to win, I say, "Winners never quit, and quitters never win." Only yesterday, he refused to participate in an activity. I said that was fine but reminded him that, if he didn't participate, there was no way he was going to win. He reconsidered, joined enthusiastically — and won. (A sterling example of refusing to give up is, of course, "The Play.)
I'm actually waffling on about this little bit of homespun philosophy for a reason. In a column today, Clifford D. May notes what most of those on the Right seem already to have realized: that Islam has declared a war on us. If it wasn't clear in 1979, it should have been extremely clear in 2001. Many remain unconvinced, so May marshalls evidence from all over about the continued battles Islam wages in this clearly declared war. The last two paragraphs struck me particularly, because they are a reminder of what my son is slowly learning, namely, that if you fear losing too much to engage in the "game," you will essentially lose by default, and prevent any chance of winning:
Let's not delude ourselves about what is going on: In the Middle East, Europe, America and elsewhere, a campaign of violence and intimidation is being waged. We have not yet begun to fight back. Instead, we've dressed up our fears as sensitivity, attempted to appease those who threaten and kill, while allowing ourselves to be cowed into self-censorship. Surely, we know where this road leads.
In the last century, Nazis and Communists attempted to extinguish freedom. We fought back. Now, there are new bullies on the block. There is no guarantee that if we fight again we will win again. But if we don't fight, defeat is inevitable. [Emphasis mine.]