Bout: Persist vs. Relent
My Topic: Relent
My Opponent: Bob Stockfish, Persist
“Oh I’ll sleep when I’m dead"
Yeah, ok, but actually you *do* go home and put on the jim-jams and get some shut-eye. You have to. Or your body will break down and you will die. No work can be literally constant, you gotta take a break. You have to pace yourself. You can’t bench press nonstop. Between sets you have to check in with your body: How are you feeling? Add some weights? Take some off? Are you feeling sufficiently swole??
Persist, yes. But when the time is right, relent.
To relent is not to quit. Quitting is a full stop, a complete relinquishing of power.
Relenting is a shrewd strategy, wherein you yield no power, you simply back off and look for a way to redirect it, it’s how you bind down an opponent’s blade in fencing, or use the bully’s own weight against him in a schoolyard fight.
To relent is to abate your offensive maneuvers, to reassess, and regroup--to gain perspective in order to make more informed choices. You create space for crucial reflection. To persist without reflection is to push on irrespective of the surrounding circumstances, which can change. Persistence without reflection can turn a spurned lover into a stalker, can turn a well-meaning cross-fit enthusiast into an insufferable asshole. Persistence without reflection is why we now have the term “Alternative Facts” AND the human garbage known as Sean Spicer.
PERSIST is banging your head against a locked door until you bleed, RELENT is stopping long enough to notice the window is open, dummy.
Push, yes, don't give up, obviously, but pick your battles, man.
There are lots of Famous Relenters out there, lots of people who knew when to walk away, so they could come back stronger. Case in point: JESUS. A three-day spa vacay and he was good as new.
You know who else understood the value of RELENT? Titus Andronicus. A decorated war hero, he knew all about offense. All about ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK. His enemy has two of his sons beheaded, another one banished, and his daughter ravaged, they cut off both her hands and cut out her tongue--I could go on, the play averages 5.2 atrocities per Act. But what did he do? He bided his time, he calculated and planned. He learned his enemy. And when the time was right: WHAT. A. DINNER PARTY.
And let’s just cut straight to it shall we? ELIZABETH WARREN, YES? Nevertheless she persisted, yes? Indeed! In reading Coretta Scott King’s letter, she persisted like a badass. But when she was told to take a seat and was further prohibited from speaking during the Sessions confirmation debate, did they have to drag her from the podium, heels digging into the carpet, hands clamped on the lectern, nails digging through the soft wood finish, while screeching her dissent? No.
Once it was made clear that she would not be permitted to finish-- and argument after argument was nullified: she relented. She went outside the chambers, she regrouped, she weighed her options, and then she went live, and melted Mitch McConnell’s fucking face, publicly, on every social media platform like a boss bitch hero.
Relenting is powerful. It gives you time to breathe. To survey the scene, to customize your attack and to go for the jugular.
My opponent might try to sell you on the NOBILITY and the ROMANCE of pure persistence. You know who persisted nobly for the sake of romance and didn’t stop to think? Romeo & Juliet. And all it got them was dead.
Persistence is noble only in so far as it is wise. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, my friends. Lose a battle in order to clear your head so you can win the war. We can’t push all the time. A tired warrior is a dead warrior. And we really need warriors right now.
We can’t afford limitless persistence--because we can’t afford burnout. When you feel weary, when you feel stretched so thin that despair is winning out over joy. RELENT. For a moment. Take Care. Breathe deep. Regroup. Reach Out. And when you are ready, dive back into the fray.
We can only afford wise persistence, which comes in waves of determined, helping hands; each wave allowing the previous one a brief respite, a stronger network because it regenerates itself by taking turns, because it knows when to stop for the weary. It knows when to stop and remember that joy can still exist. It knows when to stop and reassess for maximum impact. It knows there are times to relent.
Persist, yes. But when the time is right: RELENT.