This poem is sometimes described as inspirational. I'm not sure it was meant to be. To me it draws attention to some hard realities of life without acknowledging that they are just. Something of a criticism of mankind and society. Complaining about these realities would be to contravene the message of the poem!

'If' by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

 

Part of this is a pretty good description of how I remember my working life at Marconi Defence Systems and elsewhere, where I had to put up with gross injustice, but if I complained it was counted as further criticism of me.

Fortunately things are not like this everywhere in society. Perhaps it is particularly a phenomenon of the military.

Funnily enough, Jesus said something which I can recognise as similar. There was a story where some workers arrived for work at the end of the day, but still got paid the same as those who had been there all day. Jesus said the workers who had been there all day should not complain, because they still got paid in full, and the payment to the latecomers had no effect on their remuneration. Well I'm not so sure.

What about fairness, justice. Shouldn't we all strive for it?