Blog by Alan Seale, January 18, 2021, Courage
It’s a momentous week for us in the United States. We celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and we inaugurate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 46th President and Vice-President of our country. Celebrating Dr. King feels particularly poignant as racial, social, and economic inequality and unrest continues to break open and our political landscape grows even more tumultuous. Yet as I wrote last week, I feel more hope now than I have in a long time. Energy is shifting. We have a long way to go, yet I take heed in Martin Luther King’s words: We must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.
An audacious faith in the future. That’s a big statement—one that makes me ask what “audacious faith” means to me. As I ponder, I come back to two essential fundamental questions for our times:
- Who do I choose to be? How do I choose to show up in the world?
- Who do we choose to be together?
Out of context, these are simple questions. However, within the context of a global pandemic that isolates us from one another coupled with huge societal challenges on nearly every front, the questions become much bigger. The first question is important; the second question is critical. And we can’t really address one without the other. The questions themselves become audacious in their enormity.
Our future relies on how we answer those questions. Yet if we put those questions at the forefront of our awareness at every level of society, we just might create the possibility for “audacious hope.” And audacious hope just might open the door to audacious faith. Are you willing to give it a go?
The Audaciousness of Martin Luther King and Joe Biden
Dr. King was audacious in what he dared to say out loud and in how he dared to call us into showing up differently—to thinking in bigger ways, to seeing one another with open minds and hearts, to stepping beyond our “otherness” into our “oneness” as human beings. Regardless of the color of our skin or the size of our bank accounts, the blood of every human being is red, the heart of every human being longs for acceptance and love, and coursing through the veins of every human being is the desire to be seen and treated with dignity and respect.
Joe Biden is audacious in his plans for healing our country—physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, racially, and economically. He is calling us back to our hearts as citizens, first of the United States, and yet also of the world.
Although he might use different words, as Joe Biden takes his oath of office and becomes our new President, he will no doubt ask us to consider who and how we want to be together—how we are going to take care of each other, how we are going to create peace with one another. Again, in his own way, he will remind us that peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather how we choose to be together in the face of our conflict. And how we choose to be together with our differences rather than using our differences as weapons against one another or barriers to keep us apart.
Conscience as Our Guide
Dr. King’s teachings are as relevant today as they were in the 1960s:
Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;
Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
Courage breeds creativity:
Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.
Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency asks the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question, is it right?
And there comes a time when we must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,
but one must take it because it is right.
Joe Biden has promised to tell us the truth about what is going on whether or not it is what we want to hear. He is already calling us to personal and societal responsibility—to “be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.” He is calling us to blaze a new trail forward into the mid-21st century and beyond. He will not be a perfect leader. And we are far from being a perfect nation. Yet we can pay closer attention to our choices. We can listen to our conscience. We can make choices from a place of integrity both to ourselves and to the greater society as a whole.
American philosopher Ken Wilber’s words bring it all together:
Be the most ethical, the most responsible,
the most authentic you can be
with every breath you take,
because you are cutting a path into tomorrow
that others will follow.
This week we can turn a corner in the United States and in the world towards being the most ethical, responsible, and authentic that we can be. It’s a choice. Every day. Every breath. All of us together are cutting paths into tomorrow. Others will follow us. The clearer we are in our choices, decisions, and actions, the clearer those paths forward will be, both for us and for those who come after us. We might even “walk on with an audacious faith in the future.”