Courage

June 21, 2020 |
Image of Mack Robinson statue taken by @kihomizuno

“I shall pass this way but once; any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” - Etienne de Grellet I started this week planning to write about one topic, but everything I’ve read and researched this week has led me to the topic of courage and belief. Specifically, courage in the face of adversity. Adversity can come from all angles—work, relationships, physical, and from within. And while an obstacle might seem difficult, they are not insurmountable. The oft-referenced Nelson Mandela quote is one that I often repeat—“It always seems impossible until it is done.” This is the mindset of people that have changed the world in extraordinary ways. People like Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King Jr. just to name a few. I never read Dr. King’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” in its entirety. Usually only hearing snippets during black history month. I decided to change that and give it a read this week after seeing an episode dedicated to it on the Akimbo podcast. The letter is addressed to his fellow Clergymen in the state of Alabama. Clergymen who were sitting on their hands while the blacks of the state were being unfairly treated. Clergymen who preferred the status quo. Dr. King writes, “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here… We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” If you haven’t read it in its entirety, please give it a read. Dr. King’s writing style is nothing short of brilliant, but what really stood out to me was the bit about being there because injustice is there. He is there because we are all connected and he cannot sit idly by while people are suffering. Our destinies are connected more than some of us would like to admit. I am noticing more conversations happening where black people have been sharing their experiences and people of different ethnicities and backgrounds are listening to these experiences. It is a revelation hearing the stories of people from different parts of the country. Those that grew up differently than I did in Brooklyn, New York. I am fortunate enough to have friends that are curious about my experience and have asked me to share. They are shocked at the stories of being followed through stores, ladies clutching their purses as I walk by and being put in handcuffs for “fitting a description.” How much more injustice are we all not aware of because we are afraid to have these types of open conversations? How much of that injustice are we choosing to ignore? Both of which contribute to more of the same and both in our power to change. How can we sit idly by as our fellow humans lay out on cold sidewalks, children not having enough food to eat, people being mistreated and murdered by the system that is supposed to protect them? The philosophical side of Dr. King surprised me. I don’t usually think of philosophy when I think of preachers, but the points Dr. King makes about us all being connected made me think of the words of Marcus Aurelius where he writes, “that which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.” This analogy of the human experience is one I hope we all remember. For a long time, certain bees have had their section of the hive upgraded and cared for while other parts of the hive are in decay. And instead of wanting to restore this analogous bee-hive to all its glory, it is being ignored. If we continue to do nothing, the rot and decay affecting that portion will eventually consume the entire hive. It is now the time for us to not be like the “white moderates” and the “middle-class Negroes” Dr. King describes. The ones who suggest we wait for the “right time” before change can happen. The ones who would rather keep the status quo due to fear of ruffling feathers. The ones that have become desensitized to the problems of the masses. While the battle against the injustice of systemic racism and poverty can seem insurmountable at times, remember that you can’t have hope without a belief that things will change. Once you have that belief, courage is needed to start fighting that battle. If this fight seems overwhelming, remember you are not alone and are part of a massive bee-hive with bees seeking change. Sometimes all that is required is one bee moving forward before others develop the courage within themselves to fix the hive. Thanks for sitting through my bee analogies. It is my hope that we all start volunteering and making efforts to fix what is wrong with our communities, country, and world. Figure out where help is needed and help. Letter From a Birmingham Jail - https://www.africa.upenn…