Friday, January 28, 2011

Courage is Universal

I woke up this morning to the radio playing back a recording from January 28, 1986 as the Challenger space shuttle took off, then exploded over the ocean.

Scrolling through Facebook and Twitter a few hours later I saw hundreds of posts from people I didn't even know trying to start some form of effective communication to and from Cairo, Egypt as thousands of people stand in streets protesting for their civil freedom.

How ironic, perhaps, that we are witnessing courage of such different extremes but with potentially similar outcomes. Seven individuals consciously choose to explore space and die trying. Thousands of citizens choose to explore liberty, and some will die. Many already have.

Courage is a decision.

The best quote I ever heard about courage comes from "To Kill a Mockingbird", Harper Lee's chronicle of childhood during racially-charged times and where, I suppose, courage lived day and night.

Atticus Finch is trying to explain to his children, in not so many direct words, how difficult it will be to defend a black man in a white town:

"Courage is knowing you could be licked before you begin. But you begin anyway, and you see it through, no matter what."

No matter what.

I listened this morning to the audio tape of Shuttle Commander Dick Scobee saying "Roger, go throttle up" from 25 years ago, then sounds from Cairo with explosions and automatic weapons, right now.

Opening the universe, and making a way for people. Here, or there. It's all courage, and another reason not to forget this day.


Marge said...

I love that quote from To Kill a Mockingbird! And I like your comparison of the courage of the two different events.

I heard an interview with Harper Lee on NPR. She was asked why she never wrote another book after the huge success of To Kill.......She answered "I said everything I had to say in that book."

AKBrady said...

Thank you Marge, best of luck to your family member stuck there. We will keep her, and you, in our thoughts.

Natalie said...

This made me cry. Such a beautiful post.