What is the meaning of this quote? How does it apply to society today?"Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat."
The question you are asking is a subjective one. Any time a subjective question is asked, you are going to receive a subjective answer. That being said, this is my own personal thoughts on what the quote means and How I see it as applying to society.
The quote refers to the fact that life should be what we make of it on our own: in our own minds, ruled by our own feelings and justifications. We should not allow others to rule our thoughts by trying to control them.
When we, as a person, go against the typical, we may find that we are fighting an uphill battle. This battle, too many times to be counted, typically ends in defeat. The promise lines in the fact that we are attempting to do something, attempting to change something. In the whole spectrum of things, the one time that we are able to succeed allows us to reflect on the many steps we took to reach the success.
Regardless of what one is up against, we must acknowledge the fact that the outcome can result in defeat. Outside of this recognition, we must also recognize the fact that it is only through challenging the controlling factors that we can bring about the change we so greatly desire.