This past weekend I participated in a negotiation tournament with my school. We flew out of state, tourneyed it up, and flew home. The experience of the weekend is not what drove me back to this blog to share a thought. It was the experience on the way home that I came back to this long-neglected place to write about.
One of the professors who had coached us and taken us to the tournament had offered myself and a fellow student a ride home. We came off the highway into a notoriously not so great part of town, and were driving through to drop my fellow student at his home. As we passed a street corner, we came upon a couple who were obviously fighting. The man was grabbing at the woman and yelling, while she fought to get away. Standing a few feet away was a small child, maybe 3.
We were already driving when we saw it, and were past the scene before we all registered what we saw. At that point, my professor slowed down, and you could tell he had a decision to make. He was a Lexus driving white law professor (though admittedly, the Lexus has 200,000 miles on it) in a predominantly African American neighborhood which is known for night time violence. He had two students who, while adults, were under his "care" as he drove them home, and he did not know what the situation we had just passed was really all about. BUT, he also knew that if he left it, and there was trouble, he would have been the guy who drove on by.
So he turned around. We went back. By the time we got there, the situation seemed to have diffused, and they were all in a car, getting ready to leave. There was no more violence visibly present. So we drove on.
In that moment, I got a closer look into what kind of a man my professor is, and I was humbly awed by it. I like to think it is because he grew up playing ball in New England, and that baseball players are just naturally good guys who never shy away from a fight when someone is in need. And that may have played a part in it. But what I saw went even deeper than that. What I saw was a man who knew that something had to be done, and, even though it was not technically "his business", he took the steps to make sure what needed to be done was.
As we drove away he said, "You know, back in my day, with three guys in the car, we would have swung back, jumped out, and explained to the guy he was going to leave the lady alone. Nowadays, you have to worry about guns." I share that to show that he was not planning on being some foolhardy movie star hero, who would jump out and set "those" people straight, ignoring danger and laughing in its face. He was going to call the police. He was going to make sure the child was not in danger. He was going to put himself in the place to do the right thing.
Which is impressive. I had spent the entire weekend with him, and knew I liked him, both as a professor and as a person. I had seen his friendly and affable side, and even been comforted by his words of encouragement. But tonight I saw something of the man he is made of, and it inspired in me a desire to be a man made of similar stuff.
Which I thought was worthy of sharing.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Okay, since I am apparently still showing, and I do feel a stirring of thoughts in my heart, I will try to come back to this forum. My heart is a bit heavy these days, so the posts may not be as joyful as they once were. Though I am seeking joy in all that I do, so we shall see.
As for this post, I have some thoughts on bravery that I want to explore.
Many of you, dear readers, know that I have a heart for the crushed souls of this world. I am currently attempting to gain a law degree to better equip me to fight some of the world's greatest atrocities, including, and most likely focusing on Human Trafficking. No doubt I will write more on this in coming months and years, but that is not the true focus of this post.
I decided earlier this year that as I learn all about lawyering, I also needed to balance my education by learning much more about human trafficking. Not just where it happens, but how, why, who is behind it, who is victim of it, and who is complacent in the battle. To that end I have begun to read several books, blogs, and articles. In the current book I am reading, I have just come across a part where a woman who was part of a labor enslavement ring in Florida stood up at her enslaver's sentencing, and spoke against him. She is 4'10", has been forced to labor in fields doing work that I know would have me begging off within an hour, and has done so with little or no pay. She has seen this man beat, torture, and even kill those who acted against him. She knows that should he get a light sentence, or indeed ever get out of prison, that he will be look for revenge, and she will be in his sights.
And she testifies anyway.
She testified to a judicial system that for years ignored her, that allowed her friends to die, that implicitly told her she was of little to no value, and she did so to make sure justice was done.
That is bravery I can hardly fathom.
I like to think of myself as brave. I have been called upon investigate scary noises for neighbors, walk through dark basements to flip breakers, and once even waited for and intercepted a burglar who had been robbing one of my work sites (did I ever tell my mother about that? Hmmmm). However, the more I learn about the world, the more I see those acts as bravado. They were done to show the world how powerful I could be. There are people in this world who have shown true bravery.
Testifying against your abuser is bravery I will probably never even touch.
I go to school with two men who have served our country in the military. They have walked through dangers I can not even pretend to know. Not to show off, but because that was the job they were assigned to do. They are brave.
Corrie Ten Boom chose to hide and protect Jews in her home, even though she knew that doing so could (and eventually did) result in her own arrest and abuse. She did it because she knew that doing what was right and pleasing to the Lord was far more important than living a comfortable life in troubled times. She, and her family, were brave.
My mother was just a few months ago diagnosed with breast cancer. Recently, she found out that she will indeed have to have a mastectomy and chemo therapy. As our family dealt with the news that what we had hoped would be a health blip was going to be a health battle, it was my mother who sent out multiple emails and blogposts to encourage us. She made sure that while we were feeling crushed by the pain of the situation we focused on the blessing God has provided for her and our family. As she heads into this scary and unsure time, she is choosing to lead her family. That is bravery that humbles me.
I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me over the next few years. I suspect that whatever it is, it will give me the opportunity to meet many more brave people. I will consider each meeting an honor, and an opportunity to better understand what bravery is. I also may be called upon to show bravery myself. I won't lie, part of me wants the test. Part of me fears it. However is may present itself, I pray that when the time comes, I show the courage and bravery of a woman confronting her attackers, of soldiers walking into enemy territory, of a family confronting evil with unwavering faith, and of my mother, leading her family through her own dark hour.
I also pray that it will not involve spiders. If it does....I am screwed.