Updated: Apr 29, 2022
The word is COURAGE
Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”
For the first time ever, the JFK Profile in Courage Foundation has recognized not one but five outstanding individuals for their commitment to preserving democracy nationally and globally.
For those not familiar with the Profiles In Courage Award:
“Since 1989 the Kennedy family and the JFK Library Foundation have used the Profiles in Courage Award to celebrate the qualities of political courage that JFK admired most. Brave public servants who made courageous decisions without regard for personal or professional consequences. Putting their careers and lives on the line in standing up to tyranny and democracy in the world.”
Among the five recipients of this year's Profile In Courage Award is Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine.
My Story on Courage
When I think of the word courage, it is hard to look anywhere other than at the face of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He is a shining example of courage. A leader whose actions we witness in real-time every day. He reaches out in all ways possible to secure the lives of his citizens and the future of his country - and all at great personal risk. He is not super human or perfect, but still I am in awe of him because he represents all that is decent in a human being. He stands for, truth, strength in the face of adversity, empathy, integrity, generosity, gratitude, and most of all courage.
Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am an eternal optimist. I seek out the silver lining in every situation. Sometimes people want to pour water over my head to wake me up from the puffy, white cloud of optimism, I’m floating on. But I am not deterred. Volodymyr Zelensky has confirmed my optimism is real and what he stands for is contagious. Because standing alongside him are courageous men and women rallying to the call of freedom over tyranny every day. And it doesn't stop there. He has tapped into the inner voice of many. The voice that distinguishes right from wrong, good from evil, and action from complacency.
Think about all the people donating to or working with the World Central Kitchen and other organizations heeding the call to help those who cannot help themselves. Led by Chief Executive Chef Jose Andres, the WCK and all who work under that umbrella are putting others before self in a war-torn country and surrounding countries by providing a haven for the millions of refugees fleeing the horrors of war. That takes courage.
As I mentioned earlier, there were five recipients of the Profiles in Courage Award this year, something that has never happened before. Imagine for a moment if a wave of courage spread the way the Pandemic did. If people, young and old, in countries far and wide dared to stand up for what is right regardless of personal or professional consequences. Think about what that world might look like.
Doing the right thing isn’t always popular and often comes with consequences. But if this is the beginning of a trend, then I say, welcome to my puffy, white cloud of optimism. Or better yet, I invite you to find one of your own. Let all the puffy, white clouds take over the gloomy skies fostered by weakness, intimidation, and cowardice.
Barack Obama, upon receiving the 2017 Profiles In Courage Award at the JFK Library in Boston, echoed the beliefs of JFK when he said:
“Courage requires something more than just the absence of fear. Any fool can be fearless. Courage, true courage, derives from that sense of who we are, what are our best selves, what are our most important commitments, and the belief that we can dig deep and do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.”
Be the hero of your own story by setting an example for the ones who are only in it for themselves. Find your courage, like the Cowardly Lion did in the famed Wizard of Oz. Remember, at the end of his journey neither Dorothy or the Wizard gave him his courage, they merely helped him to realize that he was carrying it inside himself all along.
Congratulations President Zelensky and thank you for reminding us what it means to have courage.
If you are looking for help finding your courage, standing up for yourself, or to help someone else, it might be time to talk to a Life Coach. I hope you’ll reach out to me. Thank you for reading my blog and for checking in next week for a new posting of “Life In A Word”.