Becoming Brave Of Heart

To be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best, to make you somebody else; is to fight the hardest battle, you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting! E.E.Cummings

Our paths collided with each other. We were adversaries, before we even had the opportunity to know each other. He was the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. The robes he wore advertised him as the representative of peace, faith and love. It disarmed me.

He launched his attack surrounded by those with power. We were stunned; conflicted between his words and the belief in all he stood for. People shrugged, cattle-like in their following; what can you do?; well if that’s what they want; there’s nothing you can do.

We were meant to be intimidated; we were expected to be meek and acquiesce to their demands. Authority-accustomed to being obeyed.

I nearly took the easy road; I came excruciatingly and cowardly close to shrugging my shoulders. Then I thought of all the dedication, sacrifice; and hard work it had taken to build up that which they wanted to tear down. It had become our life’s work; it was our mission; it was our ‘make a difference in the world’ mark.

Something deep down inside of me woke up. Something in me refused to bow down. Refused to yield without a fight. So I stood up, I picked up my battle armour and I fought. For justice, and for what we believed in.

I had become Leonidas of the 300 — I am Sparta! I had become BraveHeart! I had become Joan of Ark!

This is my shield, I bear it before me into battle
It is not mine alone, It protects my city
I will never let my brother,Out of its ‘shadow
Nor my city out of its shelter
I will die with my shield before me
Facing the enemy.
A Spartan Oath

We went to into battle. Their presumptions and assumptions had made them ill-prepared and complacent. The battle was won by our side. Victory was ours!

As every soldier will tell you; it came at great personal cost. I lost my faith; my childhood beliefs and traditions; I stumbled in my ability to see good in others.

He came to us afterwards and apologised. Somehow, it seemed to me that the words falling from his lips did not match the look in his eyes.

We had to work together; so I constructed a wall, made from my battle armour, around the hole in my heart. We became masters at side-stepping each other with civility.

Over the years; he showed kindness to someone I love dearly. So I went to him and safely from behind my battle armour, I thanked him for his care. He was taken aback, nodded and moved on.

Then unexpectedly, our paths collided once more. This time, I was too vulnerable, too sad to find my battle armour. I faced him, bracing myself for the final blow of the sword, when an enemy realises that his opponent has fallen.

I looked into his eyes; and found only compassion; regret and kindness. He apologised for his arrogance and insensitivity all those years before. He thanked me for being the thorn in his side, that had irked him into becoming more compassionate and considerate and careful in his deeds. A better man. My ‘enemy’ offered his hand in friendship, and helped me in our hour of need in more ways than I could have asked for.

As I walked away, I felt the wall crumble and fall. I felt light and airy. I had not realised how heavy, the weight of all that armour had been to carry around.
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