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 True bravery

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nordmann
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PostSubject: True bravery   Sun 22 Jan 2012, 20:27

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” - Thucydides ca 410BCE




The picture on the main page accompanying this category is of Rosa Parks, the department store cashier who disobediently refused in 1955 to give up her seat on a Montgomery Alabama bus in compliance with the bus driver's order that she move to make room for a white person to sit down. Her protest, the ensuing arrest and her court case sparked off a campaign initially directed against the segragatory public transport laws in Montgomery but which grew and became part of a wider civil rights movement directed against all such discrimination in American law. Although this was not the first such bus protest and arrest in Montgomery, and although Rosa Parks was already active in the nascent Civil Rights movement prior to it, it still registers in my estimation as one of the most extraordinarily heroic actions on the part of an individual in history. One could argue that she at no point faced a danger of physical injury or severe punishment (she was fined $14 in total), or that she was predisposed to do it on account of her civil rights campaigning from before, but that still does not take from the enormity of the lady's decision on that December 1st and the sheer strength of conviction and will which enabled her to make it, knowing that it would have profound implications for her own life thereon.



Are there other individuals who, in your view, should be credited with bravery not because of the physical danger in which they placed themselves, but because , like Rosa Parks, as hitherto anonymous people they took a fateful decision and action based on nothing more than the conviction they must?
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Sun 22 Jan 2012, 20:57

Anybody who is prepared to speak out against prevailing opinion, even in quite small ways or in small communities show some courage, I think. It's not easy to go against everyone else. I remember thinking not long ago how brave someone was in this sort of respect, but of course right this moment I can't remember who it was.

There is here a particular Maori politician who offends everyone (including me, and other Maori) by his crudely expressed, offensive and dismissive comments on Pakeha, but I do think he is quite courageous to be prepared to face down everyone's criticism about this. (Has his mother's support though - she is even stronger.)

Some of the early scientists speaking against the opinions of the church, the religious reformers, early homosexual reformists, animals rights people (though as a good farmer's daughter I don't have much sympathy with them), all would have needed some courage. And I suppose even some of the more idiotic religious leaders who predict the end of the world (endlessly), or those stick to old-fashioned ideals need courage. (Not easy to say you are a communist these days, but in the 1930s it wasn't so hard.)

I will think of someone specific and famous later.

Cheers, Caro.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 05:24

I agree re Rosa Parkes, not only because she dared to make a stand on a bus, (hard enough with everyone looking and frowning at you) but mainly because she dared to speak out against what had been the established practice for a couple of centuries. Even if it is for the better, most people hate and fear change, being pushed out of their comfort zones and forced to face uncomfortable truths and will usually react to it with anger and sometimes violence.

I also admire the concientious objectors during WWI, incredibly brave to face the hostility and bullying of, not only a community but an entire country, on a daily basis. And similarily, those who objected to the recent Iraq war in the US and were faced with ridicule and abuse merely for not following the herd.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 08:51

I suppose in that vein, the stand taken by his objection to the American involvement in Vietnam brings Cassius Clay to mind. In 1967, three years after he won the World Heavyweight Championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He famously stated, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong... No Viet Cong ever called me nigger" – one of the more telling remarks of the era

He would eventually be arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges; he was stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was eventually successful.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 09:24

Ali's stand was courageous. But compared to Rosa Parks it was taken with a thorough understanding of where it would lead and with some very expert legal advice both before and during the episode. Some elements were surprising (the response of the WBC, the fact that he had been drafted after having secured guarantees that he would be treated the same as any other sport or entertainment star of the day etc). But once the course of action was set in motion he retained good control of where it would lead, both in terms of the legal process and especially in terms of publicity.

Poor Rosa had none of that on the day she decided to remain seated. Despite Theucydides' definition of courage quoted above she had no inkling of where her action would lead, how much support she could expect, what type of impact it would have on her future. It was the purest of stands in that it was based solely on a deep conviction that she was being wronged for no reason, and that it was a wrong perpetuated against others who had no voice. She left the ranks of anonymity and spoke out for herself and them.

If I recall, Ali himself paid homage to Parks in his autobiography and stated more or less the same thing. The book was a rather honest account in the main and he took the trouble to explain that his principled stance had several reasons behind it, not all to do with pacifism. It was brave, but it was infinitely more calculated than Parks' stand, and for that reason it is slightly diminished in comparison.
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 11:09

Surly this becomes a subject of who’s a martyr, or a scapegoat or whistleblower… all three categories need a lot of courage whereby the individuals or group stand to lose far more than they’ll ever gain, they all faced condemnation and isolation from the society they lived in.
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MadNan
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 12:01

I always admired Paul Robeson for the way he stood up for his right to political freedom during the hysteria against communism at that time.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 12:44

Mordechai Vanunu I think fits that definition. He was well aware of the consequences if he was caught and the lengths that the Israeli government would go to in order to bring him to book.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Mon 23 Jan 2012, 14:21

And not forgetting our host, Nordmann. Who displays outstanding courage in the face of continual enemy fire (tins of spam being hurled at the defences) so the few may blather and flourish in peace.
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Giraffe
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 20:01

John Hume, who was vilified for talking to Gerry Adams in the early days.
But without his courage, there would be no N Ireland peace process
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: True bravery   Tue 24 Jan 2012, 20:57

@nordmann wrote:


Are there other individuals who, in your view, should be credited with bravery not because of the physical danger in which they placed themselves, but because , like Rosa Parks, as hitherto anonymous people they took a fateful decision and action based on nothing more than the conviction they must?

Journalist Veronica Guerin for carrying out investigations into organised crime,despite repeated threats,which ended in her murder;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veronica_Guerin
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