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Courage, cowardice and committing to a cause

By Robert Fischer
Courage is a word that gets bandied about, especially by people who claim it for themselves. The word originates from the French word, coeur, which means heart. A person who has his heart in something is likely to be courageous about it.
Someone’s cowardice can be someone else’s courage. Suicide is often considered to be a coward’s way out of something, but on the other hand, soldiers who engage in suicidal activity are often given the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest decoration. Soldiers have fallen on grenades to spare the lives of the soldiers around them, and others have made gestures that almost certainly would end in suicidal death to protect the safety of others.
Courage is taking positions that don’t agree with the popular sentiment of the time. Jeanette Rankin, a female member of congress from Montana, voted against our entry into both World Wars I and II. She took a lot of heat for that.
In similar fashion, Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland was the sole vote against a resolution for this country to use force in Afghanistan in 2001. I wrote to Obama before he had selected his running mate and told him why not go for broke? Make the ticket 100 percent African American and get a second fiddle with some backbone.
Courage is a lot of things. One of its largest components is persistence. As Calvin Coolidge said, persistence is what leads to success.
Courage is raising kids, earning a steady income, and the hardships and sacrifices that may bring; being responsible in the face of irresponsibility, putting up with ridicule and harassment when standing up for what is right.
Remember Anita Bryant? She caught literal hell for the fundamentalist beliefs she had in opposing homosexuality. She went against the views of psychiatrists, sociologists, psychologists and all the other so-called experts, Hollywood, self-serving politicians like mayors of San Francisco, shapers of public opinion, television reporters and all the other big shots, and got blacklisted, and subjected to hateful language and humiliation she did not deserve.
In similar fashion, people who go from door to door promoting a form of religious persuasion they believe in get meanness and hostility for their efforts. People who think abortion is killing of the innocent stand alone outside Planned Parenthood offices and are sneered at, called names, poked fun at, yelled out, called “moral terrorists,“ insulted and disrespected even when they, as a matter of practice, stay away from the entrances and stay a safe distance away so as not to block anyone but merely to demonstrate their presence by quietly holding up signs to convince people not to be part of the taking of a life.
A lot of people some despise are really admired for their courage. The unauthorized immigrants that live among us go out into the unknown, make dangerous journeys, leave their families behind, struggle with an unfamiliar language, get looked down upon and taken advantage of, live in uncertainty of getting an income, have no medical coverage for the most part, and suffer the loneliness of the long distance runner. Obama’s executive order on immigration only rubberstamped what was already a reality.
No one in their heart really wants to hurt these people, even the Republicans who say they admire hard work, family values and having some guts and are called to own up to their credo.
Of course, these immigrants show disrespect and contempt for our laws, want government assistance and butt into the line of other people already waiting, but so have a lot of other people. Marin Luther King was a lawbreaker, and so were the students who burned their draft cards. Were they courageous or were they cowards?
Ever see those so-called homeless people who sit outside stores with signs like “Will work for food” or “I lost my American Express card” or some other excuse? There was a Lutheran minister in Minnesota who had preconceived notions of these “bums” and then decided to wear ragged clothes, empty out his pockets and pretend to be homeless himself, just to see what it would be like. There was a professor at UC Davis or Berkeley who rounded up a bunch of his students, gave them two bucks each, and asked them to survive on the streets for a week and then come back and reveal what they had learned.
It’s Christmas time. Let’s think of how it would be to be in someone else’s shoes even though we might not be able to fit in them.