‘We must all live our lives as role models for others . . .’
Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest option . . .
From time to time, we all find ourselves taking the path that offers the least resistance. But sometimes, one has to make a stand. Sometimes, there’s no option other than to take up the challenge. Sometimes, one must meet it head on.
Connection is important in our lives, kindness and compassion too. But sometimes, it takes courage to make the changes for which we strive. Rosa Parks, an inspiration to us all here at OM®, is a fine example.
Yesterday would have been Rosa’s 100th birthday – she died, aged 92, in 2005 – and, to commemorate a woman often referred to as The Mother of the Freedom Movement, various special events took place right across the United States. It was pronounced, for instance, a National Day of Courage; President Obama signed a Proclamation honoring Rosa; a postage stamp, featuring her face, was launched . . .
It’s strange to think that, less than 60 years ago, this was someone deemed not good enough – because of her skin color – to be allowed to sit down on a bus.
That Rosa Parks did sit down on the bus – that she made a stand, took up the challenge and met it head on – is something that is ingrained in our collective consciousness and burned into our national psyche.
Much later, writing about the episode in her autobiography, the inspirational Alabamian noted, ‘People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I wasn’t tired physically, or no more tired than I always was at the end of a working day. I wasn’t old, although some people have an image of me being old then. I was 42. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.’
Rosa was arrested and humiliated but, because she stood up for something she believed in, life did begin to improve for others. Progress has been slow, almost imperceptible at times, but, if we’re better connected now, if greater kindness and compassion abound, it’s due, in no small part, to the courage she showed then.
In the Proclamation that celebrates Rosa’s courage, President Obama decreed that her defiance that day ‘spurred a movement that advanced our journey toward justice and equality for all’ and praised the actions that ‘gave voice to the poor and marginalized among us’. She inspired an uprising of those, he said, ‘[whose] actions stirred the conscience of Americans of every background. [We] remind ourselves that although the principle of equality has always been self-evident, it has never been self-executing. It has taken acts of courage from generations of fearless and hopeful Americans to make our country more just.’ It is quite an epitaph.
Here at OM®, this has made us think a great deal about our own journey, one much different to Rosa’s, although our final destination is shared. Like her, we’re striving for a world more just, a place where we don’t see black and white, we just see people. Like us, Rosa strove for connection, kindness and kinship. Like her, we perhaps need to be braver and have the courage of our convictions.
‘Each person must live their life as a model for others,’ Rosa once said . . .
In the here and now, another fearless female is doing just that in an attempt to inspire us all. Her name is Gabrielle Giffords and, like Rosa’s, her tale has been often told. Rosa’s struggle was for equality, Gabrielle’s is for greater gun control but, despite the differences, the similarities are obvious.
Speaking at a Senate hearing in recent days, following in Rosa’s footsteps, the former congresswoman demonstrated her own courage. In our opinion, it’s time for us all to take up the baton.
‘It will be hard, but the time is now,’ Gabrielle told those gathered. ‘You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.’
The lesson that we’ve learned – from Rosa Parks and from Gabrielle Giffords – is that we all have it in us to seek a change for the better and to do the right thing . . .
To meet the challenges head on, no matter their size. To make a stand. To make a difference. The future is in our hands. It’s up to us now . . .
Let’s stand up for the things that we believe in, let’s be kinder and more compassionate and, above all, let’s be courageous . . .