Who Are the Brave?
A few years ago, my mind took me back to televised footage of an act during the civil rights era in our country. It was 1957 relative to the “Little Rock Nine” Black students in Arkansas. The coordinator, Daisy Bates, forgot to get a message to one of the Nine, Elizabeth Eckford. Daisy’s memory lapse meant that Elizabeth didn’t know where to meet Daisy and the other students so that they could arrive together to integrate Central High School. Elizabeth arrived alone in the midst of a huge crowd of angry, hateful and potentially violent White people who were vehemently against integration. Some in the crowd screamed for Elizabeth to be lynched. Other angry words and threatening gestures were directed towards her.
Elizabeth was the only Black person out there. A White woman, Grace Lorch, courageously came forward and guided Elizabeth away from the mob. Grace got on a bus with Elizabeth and accompanied her home safely. She alone stepped out to help Elizabeth. Grace’s brave unselfish act resonated with power. Clearly, she risked her own safety to aid Elizabeth. Years later, my heart responds with gratitude when I recollect the courage of Grace. I deeply respect that her bravery spoke volumes.
Who can forget the strength of character demonstrated by Nelson Mandela who remained detained in prison for about twenty-five years? And why was he detained? Mandela, with valor, rose up with his fellow comrades, to protest oppression of people in his country. He held an intense hatred for injustice, which placed him on Robben Island to be held by corrupt leaders in South Africa. He had a lion heart with eagle vision. He was given opportunity to be released earlier if he would agree to compromise his principles. He refused, and years later, walked out of prison on terms that represented his firm stance for justice. He bravely declined early release under the terms of the corrupt oppressors. I call that courage on elevated levels!
Mandela was universally applauded for his soul strength and for his tenacious spirit. He was admired also for his class conduct to forgive his enemies and to appoint some of them to work for South African causes. Mandela endured years of deprivation and mistreatment yet surfaced on free land as a humble man. He became the president of South Africa, and a widely loved and respected world leader.
Now here we are today – our present world. Those that step out to do wrong are plentiful. But who are the brave? Have the brave now become a rare breed? How many of us today will step out to risk our lives for strangers? How many will make waves because, at times, it is duly necessary? How many will do the right things, and risk loss of popularity to go against the grain?
How many people will bravely endure ridicule with confidence that the evil never get the last laugh? How many will walk alone, if necessary, with heads held high because power accompanies right standing? How many will stare down evil and execute justice? How many people will sacrifice to gain priceless benefits that monetary compensation cannot satisfy? How many will sacrifice, suffer, and struggle for the greatest good?
Our world has been able to positively progress because of courageous people. Courageous souls make unselfish sacrifices and pay prices that indelibly impact lives. I salute the brave for their noble endeavors.
The truly brave know that when all is said and done, the courageous win in ways that are immeasurable. Courageous actions save lives, alter destinies, create legacies, exact change, demand reform, and historically inspire.
Increasingly, may others aspire, with motivated zeal, to emulate the courage of the valiant.
Who are the new breed brave?!
Revised July 6, 2010