“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon
I’m not kidding. I didn’t intend to focus on The Joy of Fear on the week of Martin Luther King Day. That was serendipity, really. And how perfect.
For class on today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we focus on courage. The word “courage” comes from the French word for heart. And Reverend King personified the kind of heart-centered, courageous choices that changed the world.
While I admire the life that Dr. King led and I am grateful for the change that life inspired in our country and the world, his life can feel completely separate from me. The intense shifts that happened in the social and political ground fifty years ago can feel like ancient history from here.
So this year, I’d like to make Martin Luther King Day a day to remember and honor Dr. King and all the people who have worked for civil rights worldwide…and also to honor the acts of courage that we all perform every day.
Let’s celebrate and remember the courage in all of us. The courage it takes to be a parent. The courage it takes to face an illness. The courage to tell the truth. The courage it takes to watch a loved one make bad choices. The courage to think (speak, act, move, dress, etc.) differently than those around you. The courage to stand up to a bully. The courage it takes, sometimes, simply to face the day.
“Everyday courage has few witnesses. But yours is no less noble because no drum beats for you and no crowds shout your name.” –Robert Louis Stevenson
Today most definitely, celebrate the civil rights advances given to us by Dr. King and everyone before and after him who has spoken the truth and stood up for freedom and equality. Read about the Freedom Riders (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/07/25/110725fa_fact_trillin), watch The Long Walk Home (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100046/), read or listen to or watch The Help (http://www.overthemoonbookstore.com/book/9780425232200). Be amazed, grateful, humbled by the courage of these people.
And take some time today to honor and celebrate the acts of courage in your own life. The things you face, the stands you’ve taken, the apologies you’ve made, the kindness that you’ve offered. Be amazed, grateful, humbled by your own courage.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who did amazing things and inspired powerful change in a time of great challenge and controversy. And, he did not act alone – generations of people before and after him helped work that change. We have the same opportunity to live with open-hearted courage every day in a time that certainly does not lack for challenge and controversy. Acts big and small all ripple out and touch the world. Every day we have a chance to send out a ripple of kindness, friendship, and care.
Let’s celebrate that today, too.