Some days, I’m just not feeling it. Some days, I want to give up. It seems that nothing, not even freedom, could be worth the drudge of reading this particular book, or doing this particular task. So what do I do when I’m past ready to give up?

As Victor Frankl beautifully put it in his book Man’s Search For Meaning, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

So in other words, I take the time to remember WHY I fight.

First of all, I would like to point out that I literally have over a hundred favorite books. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Obviously, I can’t cover them all here. Because novel-length articles aren’t the funnest to read, I’ve limited myself to a mere nine books. You’re welcome.

#1: The One And Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is a gorilla, a gorilla in a cage next to a mall that’s open 365 days of the year. It’s a barely bearable existence, but Ivan believes it’s the only option until Stella, a wise old elephant, dies. As she dies, she extracts a promise from Ivan that he will get Ruby, a much younger elephant who only recently ended up in the “zoo” at the mall, to a better life. What choice does he have? How can he deny his dearest friend her only, and final, request?

So Ivan makes a promise that is impossible to keep. Or so it seems. Through the use of his talents, communication skills, and sheer determination, Ivan gets Ruby and himself into a better home.

Lesson: we don’t do it for ourselves, we do it for those we love. We do it because a life of freedom is what they deserve.

#2: The 5000 Year Leap, by W Cleon Skousen

More progress for freedom has been made since 1776 than in the 5000 years before it. Why? Because 28 particular freedom principles were incorporated into the American ideology and government. Without these principles and applications, freedom for all mankind can and will be lost.

Lesson: we fight for all of mankind.

#3: Wild Swans, by Jung Chang

China. A fierce, mysterious, proud, and dangerous nation. How did the China we know today come into existence? What was the price paid for them to stand on the cusp of world dominance?

The loss of freedom costs so much. Our dignity. Our humanity. Our family. Our dreams. Our potential.

Lesson: losing freedom means losing so much more than just freedom — it also means losing everything that makes us human.

#4: The Alliance by Gerald Lund

What does the loss of freedom really mean? What does Utopia cost? These are questions explored by Lund’s genius work of fiction, The Alliance. The truth: freedom costs a lot. Utopia costs even more — much more than we realize as we stand at the fork in the path.

Lesson: the question is not whether we can fight, pay the price, and win. The question is, or should be, how can we not? To quote The Alliance, “[how] can we not try and ever face ourselves as [people] again?”

#5: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

There is so much in this trilogy, about how freedom is won, maintained, and lost; about the kinds of leaders we have, and the kind of people we need to be. It’s incredible, what Suzanne Collins has done. I highly suggest reading the trilogy. Note: it is a… violent, dark series. I would not recommend it for people below the age of fifteen.

Lesson: by refusing to take responsibility and fight, we sentence our children as “tribute.”

#6: Witness, by Whittaker Chambers

I’ve already written a review of this book, but again… I can’t believe it! It’s well-written and very informative. Again, there’s a lot that can be gleaned from this autobiographical work, but my main lesson is this:

Lesson: freedom without morality (and God) is impossible.

#7: The Rise Of A Legend, by Kathryn Lasky

The fictional biography of the greatest winged mentor, The Rise Of A Legend chronicles the rise and life of Ezylryb, an owl who is a lot more than he seems. Hatched during an eternally long war, Ezylryb quickly matured and ended up revolutionizing how war was fought. After ending the war he was born into, Ezylryb took an oath of peace and ended up at the great Ga’Hoole tree.

Lesson: the freedom movement needs each of us — with our individual perspectives, gifts, and talents — in order to succeed.

#8: And There Was Light by Jacques Lussyran

In the soul-moving autobiography of Jacques Lussyran, a blind Frenchman who led a French resistance against the Nazi occupation, the themes of friendship, mission, freedom, and sacrifice are explored in memorable depth and emotion.

Lesson: we have more to offer than we realize.

#9: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

An excerpt from Firefight:

“A lot of people here have learned to just let go. What good does it do to stress all the time about the Epics? You can’t do anything about them. A lot of people figure it’s just better to enjoy their lives and accept that the Epics might kill them tomorrow.”

“That’s stupid,” I said.

Excel looked back, raising an eyebrow.

“If you accept the Epics,” I said, “They’ve won. That’s what went wrong; that’s why nobody fights back.”

Lesson: don’t accept anything less than freedom. Don’t give up just because it seems hopeless. Remember to dream, remember to fight for a better tomorrow.

Why Do We Keep Fighting?

So why do we keep fighting? When the odds are decidedly not in our favor, when the future is bleak, when hope is nonexistent?

It’s an individual matter, but here is my answer:

I fight for the people. I fight because freedom isn’t just about me — it’s about future generations. It’s about my family, my friends. It’s about dignity. It’s about the humanity in each of us.

I fight for the people.