Opinion: True grit


Grit is an old word that has come into new fashion. The 1969 Henry Hathaway film “True Grit,” staring John Wayne and a very young Glen Campbell, recounts the story of a teenage girl wanting to avenge the murder of her father by hiring Wayne’s character, a codgy lawman aptly named Rooster Cogburn, because he was alleged to possess the grit to get the job done. Throughout the film, she comes to realize that the strength of character required resides in all of us – if our will or circumstance can only release it. Wayne’s portrayal illuminated the big screen, ultimately winning his only Oscar after three nominations. Grit, at least as Wayne portrayed it, isn’t pure – it may not even be polite – but it is about doing what is right, what needs to be done, and doing it when it is needed. 

Today a quick perusal of any bookstore, online or otherwise, will show scores of tomes dedicated to the subject. Grit, it seems, is making a comeback. Are we tough enough to survive in a sometimes difficult world? Can we overcome the inevitable roadblocks along our journey? Can we get back up after someone, or something, has knocked us down yet again? Today’s authors cite study after study, example after example, of folks doing extraordinary things against seemingly overwhelming circumstances. 

A friend was recently sharing that her young son had decided, against her advice, to adopt a dog. The boy had not shown much aptitude for responsibility. But, this loving beast inspired him. Early each morning, they walk. Daily is a ritual of care. His commitment is constant and unbounded. Among all priorities, this is the singular one to which he is dedicated. There is something about doing this thing that drives him. Do we have the same in ourselves?