Monday, November 3, 2008

Finding Courage

An interesting thing happened today here in America. A 6th grader at our elementary school had his right to “Free Speech” squelched when he wore a Yes on Prop 102 t-shirt. You see, it started because there was a club at the high school this child’s sister attended that was able to sell t-shirts for No on Prop 102 for students to wear at school. The sister and some friends got together to make t-shirts themselves to voice their opposing opinion. Her little brother got in on the action, making his own YES on 102 t-shirt. When he got to school, his teacher, after making a commotion about it in class, sent him to the principal. He was given a shirt from the nurse’s office to wear instead. The reasoning was that it was against District Policy to wear political shirts, which was actually not the case. The policy does not prohibit wearing political shirts.

Well, this raised quite a ruckus among many in the neighborhood. We were very concerned about the fairness of the issue, freedom of speech and hidden agendas. My first thought, along with a couple others, was to send ALL our kids in YES on PROP 102 t-shirts. They couldn’t make all 50 of them change their shirts. Fortunately, things were able to be relatively sorted out with the principal acknowledging the error and apologizing. Truthfully, I felt a sense of relief when I realized we weren’t going to be sending an army of minors to school promoting a proposition.

This whole thing created quite a turmoil of emotion in me… on one hand, I wanted to stand up for the little guy. On the other hand, I worried so much about the repercussions of my actions. I wanted to do the right thing, stand up for what I believe in. But I found myself apprehensive about how it would weigh on my children, my reputation, my religion.

At what point does one stand up for what they believe? When is it right to make your voice heard? When is it worth it to risk your families comfort? I don’t know that I would hesitate as much if it were only myself to worry about, but this is a controversial subject and people get mean. Do I really want that redistributed to them?

I am into a lot of historical fiction. I don’t pretend to know a ton about history, but I gleaned enough facts from stories about history to know that there were some incredibly brave people. History is full of people who weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe, what they know to be true. They ignored their fears, if they existed, about the consequences of their bravery.

Corrie ten Boom hid her Jewish neighbors. Rosa Parks sat where she was entitled to sit. Harriet Tubman helped God’s children escape evils of slavery. Women dressed themselves as soldiers to fight the civil war. Colonists rose up against the only nation they had ever known to defend the most basic human right of freedom. Our history is quilted together with colorful threads of bravery. Each one making our world a little better; a little stronger. So what is my problem?

Oh, I can voice my opinion loud and clear from the safety of my laptop. I can join ranks with any of the bravest as long as I am safely in my home wearing my most comfy PJs. But when it comes down to it, am I willing to go outside my comfort zone? Am I willing to face confrontation, anger and discord? I would like to say I am. But, there is a timid voice inside, seeking a more secure time. A time when we could only talk about standing up for the right.

Truth be told, the time is now. My moment of truth has come. I can boldly and unashamedly stand up for those things I believe or I can keep to the comforts of my home, letting the brave fight my battles.

Maybe the answer isn’t sending my children to school with a t-shirt that states my opinions. Maybe the answer is something that is even harder for me. The world is changing. Opportunity to stand up for your beliefs, whatever they are, will manifest themselves with more frequency. I am not sure I am ready for that world, but it is coming. I hope I have what it takes.

Tomorrow, I am going to the polling center to “campaign” for Prop 102. When I got the call to participate, I knew I had to do it. Gulp. This is a pretty heated topic. Gulp. What if someone throws an egg at me? Gulp. And then I heard that my friends were going to be there as well. Suddenly, my fear receded. I found my small amount of courage somewhere next to my yellow backbone. I could do this. I am grateful for friends that are willing to stand up for their beliefs. For what they believe. It gives me courage. Courage to speak. Courage to act. I hope to one day be like the people who have that courage even when their “peeps” aren’t along for the ride. Somewhere, inside, I think it is there. I will continue to try and trust myself, my hunches, my God. Then I believe I will find that courage.

What gives you courage? What makes you speak out?

** UPDATE** A dear friend of mine sent me highlights from a talk Neal A Maxwell gave. Becasue of its length, I will only put the link here. I recommend you read it, such powerful words.


Our Crazy Family said...

Thank you for capturing my thoughts in a nutshell Kathy! Now I don't have to write all of that! I will be there at the polling place tomorrow right with you. I hope no one throws anything--I will have my kids right there with me. I think you are right--we discussed this in our FHE. The time is coming when we will have to stand up for what we believe with increasing frequency. I too, hope I have the courage.

Shauna said...

I agree! Stand up for righteousness!
Thanks for this post :)

Erin said...

It is hard for me to be vocal sometimes...I don't want to be judged. But you are right - when we feel passionately about something, we HAVE to do something about it! Good job!

Connie said...

I get all flustered and tongue-tied when I try talking to someone about why I'm not voting for so & so because of taxes, etc...but when I speak of things such as Prop 102 and about what our Heavenly Father has taught us is according to His plan, my tongue is loosed and I'm able to speak with amazing clarity. It's wonderful what the Spirit does for us when it comes to our righteous actions and intents! Pray for strength, courage and clarity in those trying times, and it will come :)

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

P.S. Don't forget to visit my new blog :) said...

I love this! Thanks. It is so true. I guess the time is rapidly approaching that we will have to get used to being outside our comfort zone. It is so hard. But I guess now we have to rise to the occasion. I'm proud of my big sis!