Is it better to quit while you’re ahead or to charge bravely forward?
The socially appropriate answer to that is conflicted. Our stories and expressions celebrate those who took bold stands –
The Greeks, at Thermopylae, fought to the last man. Flanked and facing an insurmountable foe, 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, and 400 Thebans defended the pass, allowing the main host to escape entrapment. These men were slaughtered. But we remember them proudly. Over 2000 years later, we remember them proudly.
Fortune favors the bold.
Tacking into the wind.
Tenacity. Grit. Perseverance.
These words capture the awe inspired by those who fight when all is lost – or at least for those who win.
Even the Spartans, dead though they may be, succeeded in their goal – they gave their lives to protect the main body of the Greek army. The Trojans, who unwittingly welcomed their conquerors, are remembered less fondly.
Even the story of the honorable Don Quixote De La Mancha, tells us that while we may be inclined to treat such men as fools, there is indeed something noble about tilting at windmills.
But why are we inclined to treat such men as fools, surrounded as we are by stories of glory and honor?
Stubborn. Proud. Immutable.
Those are just a few of the words we may use to describe those who fight when all is lost – or at least those who lose. For those who stand their ground when a wiser man might flee.
So which is it? Is history to be our only judge? If you overcome you are a hero, if you lose you are a fool? How then are we to know whether to quit and go home or to persevere?
Or is there, perhaps, something noble about fighting the good fight no matter what the outcome?
Should we bear badges of stubborn and fool proudly? Tough in our resolve to stand firm no matter the cost?
Or, perhaps, should we chose instead to live to fight another day?