Max Weber was, according to Wikipedia, a German sociologist, philosopher and political economist whose works in the late 19th and early 20th century greatly impacted thinking about and the state. He may be best known for his essay, Politics as a Vocation, in which he defined the state as an entity which has a “ on the legitimate use of force” with emphasis on legitimate. He read the essay to his students at Munich University in January 1919, hoping to their thinking about getting involved in politics.

In this day of reflection (Washington’s Birthday) I found his final paragraph to be helpful as I labor in the vineyard of the fight. Here is his lecture. And here are his final thoughts to his students:

is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth –that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.

Yes, there are times when I think “what foolishness is this?” The world sometimes appears “too stupid or too base” (or both) to bother with. I’m tilting at windmills driven by forces vastly stronger than my own. Nevertheless I labor on.

But it’s not labor. It’s a calling. I think that’s what Weber is telling me. Are you also one of those to whom Weber was speaking?

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