“Are You Morally Courageous?”
This year, my observation of Black History Month was deeply reflective. Contrary to years gone by, I was unable to simply move past the feelings and passions aroused by reflecting on some of the negative parts of American history. Perhaps it was due, in part, to having more time at my disposal (after recently completing a second Master’s degree and embarking on a job search). Whatever it was, I was struck by my reaction to it.
In my search for answers I read more, saw educational films, and had honest and constructive conversations on race with people of various races. Admittedly, I experienced a great deal of angst as I wrestled with my own frustrations. I found the lack of fairness and humanity toward black people, both historically and present day, to be rather disheartening. Only to be further compounded by personal experiences within the last six months, and, as recent as a month ago that fed into the uneasiness created by issues of race.
I was heading toward apathy. I was angry. And, while I did not wish to remain angry, I did not know how best to channel the anger I felt. I began to doubt that institutional changes could take place because it hinged on whether people, specifically, white people (as they are most often in influential positions of authority), could/would really change. And if they did change, would they be willing to speak out against the injustices they witnessed.
And then, I saw this…
This short piece once again reminded me how indelible an impact one person can make. Change is possible even for those guilty of the most heinous atrocities against fellow human beings. Understanding can be gained, new perceptions and ideas can be formulated, and actual change can occur. As long as there is breath in one’s body, the opportunity to choose the moral good exists.
TJ Leyden, the “former neo-Nazi skinhead and white supremacist” said, “The people who should hate me the most, and be angry with me the most because of what I did in my past, embrace me the most.” When it comes down to it, I cannot stop being one of the gracious hearts that embraces others, any and all others.
One cannot simply expect Moral Courage of persons in the wrong. There is great beauty in seeing Moral Courage demonstrated by those who have been wronged.
Although I have some ideas, I’m still working on what Moral Courage means for me. What does it mean for you?