Tomorrow is Veterans Day, the day we honor all armed service veterans and celebrate the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. In a way, it’s a day to celebrate living in courage. I’m convinced that if
you have never served in the military, you can not fully know the courage it takes to go into battle and to fight. To live inside a war and knowingly put yourself in harm’s way. To risk being maimed. To kill or be killed.
Those who serve our country will tell you that they are not extraordinary. They will tell you that they do not possess an extra helping of courage. They remind you that courage is not the absence of fear, but the will to take action in spite of fear. They will tell you that in the thick of battle they have no choice but to keep going forward. To do what needs to be done.
Living Takes Courage and is Hard for Many
Perhaps they say they are ordinary because they know it takes courage just to live what we call our everyday lives.
Ask those whose everyday life includes depression, chronic illness or pain. Ask those who are jobless, homeless, or cut off from family. Ask a new widow or orphan, or the parents of a stillborn baby. Ask someone who has lost a limb or has paraplegia. Ask the person with a terminal disease and no more treatment options. Ask the person who must stand on his or her convictions when it seems like everyone else is urging otherwise. Each one of them will give you the same answer: they know they must summon the will to keep going forward. To do what needs to be done.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
~ UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill
What I have noticed most about my friends and family members whose journey through life takes courage is that they put a lot of effort into getting on with living. They live the life they have. They may grieve, they may seek professional help, and they may share their emotions with close friends and family. What they don’t do is complain, at least not often. They understand complaining does nothing to fix the situation nor does it make them feel better. When they have a pity party (and who doesn’t), it’s a party for one, or with just a trusted few, and it doesn’t last long. They do everything they can to live richly and to make the lives of everyone they touch better. They give freely in their relationships to the full extent of their abilities. They don’t give up.
Living life in courage is hard. Perhaps when people say someone has lived a hard life, what they really mean is that person has met life with courage. It’s just hard for us to recognize this kind of courage when we see it in others or in ourselves.
Meeting life with courage is preferable to living life in cowardice – with giving up when the going gets tough. It is our right to live life with courage.
And that is why the right to live life in courage is my Third Amendment.