“Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”These are famous words spoken by an English statesman. Who said this? The words were spoken by Winston Churchill. What was the occasion? The Germans had successfully invaded many European nations and now bombs were falling on London.
We all know how this story ended – the British withstood the devastating attacks that ravaged their country and went on, with the assistance of the United States and other Allied nations, to defeat the German military machine. This tyranny was removed from the European continent. But on the day Mr. Churchill spoke those words to the world, the outlook was much darker. The pundits thought that nobody could stop Germany and after they had dismantled England they would prepare an invasion of the United States and other nations.
How did we get from such a desperate outlook to a successful defense of freedom? It’s impossible to claim one reason for the success of the British fight for freedom, but the optimism shown by Churchill certainly played a large part in it. “These are not dark days: these are great days”, he said. Great days? Average citizens were using the subways as bomb shelters and normal life had ceased to exist. What is great about that? Well, with a cynical outlook, nothing. However, Churchill was able to see the silver lining that was far off in the sky. He thanked God that “we have been allowed…to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Churchill didn’t express the sorrow and heartbreak many British felt, but spoke of the light at the end of the tunnel. The light was certainly a long way away, but without the optimistic vision he gave the British public of their future, they likely never would have seen that light return to their shores.
There is a great lesson here. Optimism, not cynicism, will lead us to success. Gordon B. Hinckley quotes his father as telling him, “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” Let us strive to see the sunshine behind the clouds of our lives. It worked for Britain and it can work for us. We will all face challenges, struggles, and battles that seem impossible to overcome. I believe that we will never be given a challenge too difficult to overcome. With an optimism to see our eventual goal alongside a healthy dose of diligent work and faith in our abilities, each of us can make our own struggles “memorable in the history” of our lives.