On a Zoom call today with a group of friends, some new and some old, the discussion turned to what we were thinking amid all that is going on around us. I listened to all the other women talk. I had been thinking about their comments when my turn came around to speak. I summed up what I heard from each woman on the call.
Although not their exact words, I said, “What I hear everyone saying is that in order for us to change the world, to leave a planet better than we found it, and to make a path forward for our children and our grandchildren, we must be brave.”
Be brave. Bravery. Bravado. Courage. After the call I decided to look the word up. I started with the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, which defined brave as, “having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty: having or showing courage.”
I then moved to dictionary.com which defined brave as, “possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.”
I finally ended this cross comparison with the Cambridge dictionary which defined brave as, “showing no fear of dangerous or difficult things.”
So, what did I learn? Better yet what did you learn from these definitions about being brave?
Well, upon first look it seems that for one to be brave, one must have courage. That is a great way to put being brave. Equally important to being brave, one must be fearless or have the strength to face danger.
But you know what is striking in all these definitions. The absence of the word action. One must act to be courageous. One must act to be brave.
To be brave means we must come out of our comfort zones. We must be willing to risk our safety and security to be brave.
Shirley Chisholm once said, “I am and always will be a catalyst for change.” Talk about stepping out of her comfort zone! And Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
I, like Shirley and Ruth am a change agent. However, like most people I do not like stepping out of my comfort zone because of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure.
I have learned that in most cases these are really our only two fears. And in times when we need to speak up, and speak out about injustice, racism, or inequity, we are sidelined by these fears.
We are sidelined by the fear of rejection. Rejection of the comfort zone we know, the friends we keep and the family relationships that sustain us. We are sidelined by fear of failure. Fear of the failure of the what ifs. What if I do not say the right thing? What if I offend someone?
And while we have many other fears, its these two that most prevent us from being brave. We cannot escape fear. Which is why bravery can change the course of a nation and our humanity.
Fear paralyzes and keeps us behind the safety of our suburban homes. Bravery frees us from the things we believe go bump in the night. Our fears keep us mediocre at best, while being brave sets us on the course to our greatest purpose in life.
Today our nation, and our world is crying out for us to be brave. To breakdown barriers to inclusion. To be brave in the face of the unknown and to take a chance on changing the course of human history.
To be brave is to know that we all belong. That our otherness is to be celebrated and embraced as the quilt which makes up the family of man.
To be brave means that we are willing to take the risk, go the extra mile and bet on the long shot of our common humanity.
“And that’s a Brilliant Glimpse of Insight.”