Whether past or future given the present is most depressing?
So did Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Cicely Saunders, Aung San Suu Kyi, Edith Cavell and Raoul Wallenberg.
All the stories of these individuals just listed are found in the book by Gordon Brown entitled “Courage – Portraits of Bravery in the Service of Great Causes.”
Courage is what they had in common.
Courage that was born in crisis.
Courage got their story told. And retold. And told again.
Crosscut.com, an online daily news magazine covering the “civic and cultural life of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest,” is soon to host its “second annual Courage Awards” and is looking for nominations.
People who never persevered because they never tried? Folks who floundered, ‘one and done,’ and resorted to easier, more comfortable, less dangerous paths?
Whose stories, after all, fascinate? Who, as questions Gordon Brown, become “exemplars and icons”? Whose “stories live on and inspire us”?
Crosscut’s criteria: “We’re looking for people who have innovated or persevered for the greater good despite personal or organizational risk; who have inspired and instructed others. We’re interested in recognizing bold acts of leadership and highlighting the role of unsung heroes.”
Bad times breed brave men and women. And unfortunately, in some respects, bad memories of bad times may one day soon be neuro-scientifically erased.
And that’s too bad.
Most certainly there is value, as the August 27, 2014 Newsmax article describes researchers, in finding new possibilities for “treatment of mood-affecting disorders such as depression, or PTSD, a condition found in people such as soldiers who have undergone life-threatening or particularly horrific events.”
And yet it is those very events that while breaking some embolden others.
Philip Yancey wrote about a poll he’d heard taken of senior citizens in London. “To the question, ‘What was the happiest period of your life?’ sixty percent answered, ‘The Blitz.’ Every night squadrons of fat Luftwaffe bombers would dump tons of explosives on the city, pounding a proud civilization to rubble – and now the victims recall that time with nostalgia! In those dark, fearful days, they learned to huddle together, and strive toward a common goal. They learned such qualities as courage, and sharing, and hope.”
Dire circumstances: we don’t wish them but when we find ourselves in them – whether brought about by our own foolishness or thrust upon us by others – they can in fact come as blessings in disguise offering opportunities we’d possibly otherwise never experience, developing character – and courage – likely obtained no other way.