It’s a two part phrase.
Lost: the absence of direction.
Cause: a definitive purpose within an ideology.
The phrase lost cause makes me think of something I read once, that we can sometimes be a boat on the ocean with a sail, but no rudder. The sail is our passion, our drive. The rudder is our common sense, our grounding, practicality. Without the sail we would run in circles, endlessly and uneventfully. To be with a sail but minus the rudder, we would push destructively across the seas, no compass, like a candle that would burn down too quickly. It is the combination of the two that keeps us steady.
The term ‘lost cause’ means (at least to me) that we have the drive, but we don’t where to put it. We’re talented, but don’t know where to devote it. We’re pushing forward, but we question if we’re making a difference. We’re foundering on open seas and there’s no sign of the moon or stars to guide us.
“The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long, and you have burned so very brightly.”
So we are lost, and yet we know we want to go somewhere. Maybe the cause makes us lost. Perhaps knowing the route and having the means to walk it frightens us, so we meander around the start line, never taking that oh-so important first step.
Or perhaps we took those first steps, we’re half way along the road, maybe further and now we have lost the map, or the purpose. We are the scarecrow, tin man, lion and we’re all on the side of the yellow-brick road wondering how the hell we all got into this mess, looking for the critical component that will get us going again. Solidarity might hold the answer? Good friends, good strong hands to pull us up again. Perhaps.
Or maybe not. All the advice in the world, clamoring at our ears for audience doesn’t matter. In the end, the battles are our own. And we always lose.
I think there is real comfort in that.
Here’s to lost causes. And here’s to finding them again.