Thursday, July 4, 2013


I've been reading John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage and I can't help but notice the stark contrast between the United States Senators profiled for acts of political courage and the high-profile political shenanigans in any newspaper this week or month. 

What impresses me most about the courage of conviction  (or Kennedy's "grace under pressure," borrowed from Ernest Hemingway) is the willingness to stand.  To be clear and articulate about a well-reasoned position taken up only after much thought, analysis, and consideration of the common good. To know full well the political and personal costs. To be willing to pay the price.

Only history determines with accuracy whether a courageous stand was valid on the merits.  I can be courageous and right; I can be courageous and wrong.  In the midst of sincere and passionate advocates on both sides of any issue, time and distance are required to assess with any accuracy the decisions made and the positions taken. Sadly, the vituperative attacks on character and reputation are but one price to be paid, well in advance of any vindicating historical record.

What I am seeing today is comfortable courage, a courage of convenience. A courage that allows personal safety, careful scripting of commentary, and skillful manipulation of the press. It makes me wonder about the progress we've made.

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