Profiles in Courage

Today Barack Obama received a Profiles in Courage Award. In his speech he talked about what courage means. He talked about representatives to Congress who voted to protect health care even though they knew it might cost them their jobs. They made a decision that doing what they knew in their hearts was right for the world was more important than doing what was safe for themselves.

Courage comes from the Latin word for heart. Action on the conviction in your heart is not a choice confined only to those who govern. Or to those in power. Every individual – grownups, teenagers, and children can act with courage.

Lately, in the face of many new dangers – the unrelenting violence in city, suburb, and small town; the loss of jobs and not knowing where the next meal is coming from; families being ripped apart as parents are deported away from their children; the rise of oceans with accompanying hurricanes and droughts; the bullying at school –we can get caught up in protecting our own little worlds, feeling powerless to help others being swept away in the tide.

I encourage you to listen to Obama’s speech. If you have school-age children or teenagers, fix some hot chocolate or a couple of ice cream sundaes, pull up your chairs around a computer and listen together. Then talk about it. About what it means to have courage. Courage to tackle big challenges. Courage to listen to one another, even when you disagree. Courage to stand up to hate. What it takes to build character. To play your part in the destiny of the world.

John F. Kennedy put out the call: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Extend this. Not just to your country but to your neighbor, your co-worker, your schoolmate. To your parent. To your child.

Share your favorite stories of courage.

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