Holland Reynolds, Cross Country, and Conservatism

Holland Reynolds has something to teach all of us. However, I implore conservatives to take a good hard look at her story; it's a metaphor for the kind of American we seek to create.

California isn’t a lost cause after all!  Sure, most of us look at the sad liberal mess it’s become and shake our head (these days it’s only good at exporting jobs to its neighbors, and the worse their self-imposed financial disaster gets the more they stick to the same mentality that caused it).  However, the California State Cross Country Championships—and more specifically the tale of Holland Reynolds—is inspirational for a number of reasons.  It’s also a great metaphor for the kind of world conservatives seek to create.

In short, Holland collapsed on the home stretch to the finish line.  Anyone who has seriously run Cross Country knows what it’s like to completely empty your tank—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. However, many runners know that most of the time when people think they’ve dug deep down inside and have nothing left to give…that there is more to give. And Holland’s story proves it.

Who would have blamed this young girl after her collapse if she just closed her eyes, rolled over, and waited for coaches and trainers to give her medical attention? No one. But something inside said to ignore the pain and soldier on because her teammates were counting on her.  It often doesn’t make sense to the casual spectator why someone who has tumbled to the ground would rather crawl on their knees than to be carried off the field of play when injury strikes. The runner, however, knows better.

The fans on the sideline never saw the long lonely miles or the pre-dawn runs that helped propel her to the state championships to begin with. They could never know of the time, dedication, patience, and isolation that it takes to be an elite long distance runner.  They could never see the sacrifice it took behind the scenes to reach that level of success…

Imagine if we lived in a world where the kind of grit and determination demonstrated by Holland Reynolds was instilled in men and women across the country, and then applied in every aspect of their lives. Imagine if all those random knock downs and blow backs we face in our professional or personal lives triggered a response that said to buckle down, focus on the goal at hand, and move forward. Imagine if we thought about the coaches and mentors and loved ones who invested in us when we considered calling it quits—and then found a hidden supply of inner fortitude because it would hurt even more to let them down. Such a place would be a pretty nice world to live in, wouldn’t it?

The novice runner hits a wall and stops to catch their breath. The experienced runner (or people with the Holland Reynolds gene) knows that there is a second wind to be had. We can go faster and farther than we ever dreamed. We just need to cast off the mind forged manacles of ideologies that blame others for our problems, abdicate individual responsibilities to nameless and faceless third parties, and encourage sloth and apathy through perverted public policy.

Were there people ready and waiting to help Holland if she truly needed it? Of course. But those very same people knew that sometimes we can achieve great heights despite pain and suffering, and that perhaps the character built through such tribulations is far more valuable than the comfort that comes from having caretakers too quick on the draw.

Liberalism is a crutch that’s eager to be used and willing to convince even the able-bodied citizen they’d be better off with a cane. Conservatism is the coach that’s always there by your side in an emergency, but willing to watch you fall down because a.) it’s a part of life and b.) there’s a mettle inside most of us we’ll never realize is there unless we’re given a chance to find it.

Conservatives aren’t cold hearted, just as Holland Reynolds’ coach wasn’t when he watched her crawl over the finish line. In fact, the life lessons Holland will take away from that state championship race will stay with her the rest of her life.

While I can’t claim to ever have run with the elite, those are the gifts I took away from the sport years ago. It baffles my mind that so many runners out West are liberal, but perhaps conservatives like me have just been silent for too long. Regardless, I tip my hat to Holland Reynolds because she has something to teach all of us.

Rest up my friend. You earned it.