Category : PROspective
In December of 2010, Paramount Pictures released their $38 million remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic, True Grit; this time starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and an absolutely indomitable Hailee Steinfeld. The story follows Mattie Ross (Steinfeld), a 14-year old who contracts a hired gun (Bridges) to pursue her father’s killer (Brolin) through treacherous territory to avenge his murder. You don’t have to be a fan of traditional westerns to appreciate Mattie’s tenacity and determination – the all-too-obvious inspiration for the movie’s title. It’s nothing short of thrilling to watch her railroad seasoned trackers, bounty hunters, thieves and murders in order to ensure she is treated fairly and the journey proceeds ethically in a world normally lacking such luxuries.
Grit is a special kind of character trait – an alphabet soup of bravery, passion, and pure strength of will – guided, at all times, by an unwavering moral compass. It’s the sort of thing that only gets unlocked within us in response to the greatest of tradgdies or injustices, compelling us to rise to a challenge instead of abdicate or resign.
This week, as final exams brought an end to this semester and to the year-of-the-virus that brought it to life, I am reminded of grit because it is this character trait that our community has exhibited so heroically in the face of these truly brutal circumstances. Grit drove students and faculty through a new and complicated months-long experiment in teaching and learning online. Grit helped us to compartmentalize, problem solve, and find gratitude in our shared experience. Grit got you through homeworks, papers, problem sets, and now final exams – while simultaneously applying skills and knowledge to better understand and mitigate the global pandemic. As with our heroine, Mattie Ross, it was nothing short of thrilling to watch your determination in the face of all that stood in front of you this year.
From all of us at the Confounder, congratulations on your accomplishments this semester! Enjoy your time off with the satisfaction of knowing that you faced the challenge with grit and persistence, in service of lessening the suffering of your fellow citizens.