I first heard this word in a book describing Bobby Kennedy having no idea what it meant. Then I heard it again on a West Wing episode when Sam tells Mandy she has it, and she also didn’t know its meaning.
Used as a noun, it means spirited and determined…courageous and brave.
Saying those things to her took a lot of pluck: having nerve and backbone; to be daring, intrepid, fearless. To have mettle, grit, fortitude and resolve…stout-heartedness, dauntlessness, valor, heroism, audacity, moxie, gumption and spunk.
It’s become one of my favorite words and to think it rhymes with another favorite.
Animals have a lot of pluck, it’s built-in by nature who must have realized, they need it simply to survive. Have you ever seen a frightened dog or cat? They plunge ahead even if they’re trembling.
Soldiers have it. How else could they do what they do? Pluck is a slow-drip of courage coursing through one’s veins allowing us to wade across the river in one piece.
The elderly have it entering the last phase of life when it’s no longer easy.
The sick struggling to put one foot in front of the other hoping they just make it through the day.
Teddy Roosevelt, my all-time favorite president had a lot of pluck, since he seemed to fear nothing, and Barack Obama, even if he’s not your cup of tea, definitely has it fearlessly facing the world with its cast of enemies.
The Islamic girl I saw on the train who weathered being made fun of wore hers like a shield. She stood her ground without running away from a very scary situation. I asked myself, would you still be on this car if this was happening to you? Probably not, having those animal instincts knowing when it was smart to get outta Dodge.
Yet, deep down I know I possess plenty every time I stand up for myself. You do require it when confronting any opposition, which brings me back to Bobby Kennedy. He had a ton of enemies: The Teamsters, J. Edgar Hoover, the mob all becoming suspect after he was killed. Does that mean it’s a risky trait to own and brandish?
It proves having pluck can be downright dangerous, but without it who are we then…
Is that really a choice?
I’m voting no.