Courage — A Quality of Light

Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief; bravery; pluckiness; daring; audacity. Courageous acts can be active or passive. They can be tiny or global. These acts can be spontaneous or well-planned out. One person can exhibit courage as can a million strong. Courage can be expressed in a word or deed. There are so many variations of courage and courageous acts that is it dizzying in the best possible sense.

I believe in the coming months we who stand for equality, dignity and decency for all people will need to have and express courage by saying no, stop, unacceptable to actions coming from those associated with the Trump campaign and incoming administration. Yet even in this moment there are so many people who have demonstrated bravery. I would like to name and honor some of those people.

Acts of Courage:

Temple Taggart McDowell, Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Mindy McGillivray, Cassandra Searles, Jill Harth, Alicia Machado, Kristin Anderson, Summer Zervos and Ninni Laaksonen each publically named Donald Trump as committing verbal and/ or physical sexual assault against them.

Warren Buffett released his tax returns though he was being audited by the IRS thereby refuting Trump’s claim he could not release his tax returns while under similar audit.

Alec Baldwin and the cast of SNL exercised their freedom of speech under the First Amendment in their parody of the president-elect. They are even more courageous to continue the skits though bullied by Donald Trump to stop.

The cast of Hamilton publicly speaking to Mike Pence at the conclusion of their performance at which time they advocated for equality and dignity for all citizens.

Jill Stein exercising her right to demand a voter recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania though Trump mocks her in the media and is seeking to block her at every turn.

Laura Shanley called Mike Pence almost daily since he signed into legislation an anti-abortion bill which was later overturned. She said since he wanted to control her body, she felt he should know her body and very specifically the details of her menstrual cycle.

Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio created #GrabYourWallet boycott list naming major stores carrying Donald and Ivanka Trump brands. They encouraged Hillary supporters to shun these stores. They also provided scripts for consumers to call these companies stating they would no longer be shopping there as long as the retailer carried the Trump brands.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said he will refuse to help Donald Trump’s deportation efforts should they come to pass.

Wesleyan University President Michael Roth declared this week that Wesleyan is a sanctuary campus in Connecticut that will not voluntarily assist the federal government in any efforts to deport students or faculty because of their immigration status.

Christopher Suprun, a paramedic from Texas who served as a firefighter during the September 11 attacks, declared even though he is a Republican elector, he will not vote for Trump.

LeBron James has publicly announced he and several other Cavalier players are boycotting Trump Hotel during their next New York trip. Trump Hotel has long been the team’s hotel of choice.

Three central Florida voters filed a lawsuit Monday, December 5th in Leon Circuit Court, asserting Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, actually won Florida. The plaintiffs, who live in Osceola and Volusia counties, say the state’s official election results were off because of hacking, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems. The president-elect and the rest of the defendants could simply ignore the lawsuit, or fail to respond before the national deadline to settle disputes over election results, but they filed nonetheless.

Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, has spent fifteen years studying courage. She writes, “…when you do take that risk, when you enter that arena to do something brave, just be you. Take off the armor and instead bring with you “your full clarity of values” — know exactly why you’re being brave. Because if you fall, remembering why you’re there in the first place and what you’re fighting for will help you get back up.”

“In the end — whether or not you falter — the credit will go to the person who showed up, who was brave enough to take the risk in the first place,” Brown explained. “We are all called to be brave with our lives and answering that call means choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s easy, practicing our values rather than professing them and leaning into our vulnerability.”

“It also helps,” she said, to have people in your life who are empathetic. They’re the ones who will help pick you up, dust you off, and help you get back into the arena. These will be the people with whom you have established trust, which is another component of courage.”

And so it begins…acts of courage that stand up to the bad behavior of a man in high public office and the team that surrounds him. I have no doubt there are thousands of courageous acts happening every single day that say no to lying, racism, bigotry, misogyny and homophobia. No doubt many are carried out privately in homes and churches, hospitals and schools. I just hope with all my heart that each one of us has the courage to search our hearts and ask what small or large step we can take to make America better, stronger, a country that supports and respects all citizens — and then we take it together in the days following January 20th .