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Courage, mon coeur

I was talking to a bright nine-year-old lad a few weeks ago, who was lamenting the loss of his favorite pillow.

"What did you like about it?" I asked him. "It had the word courage written across it," he replied.

"Did you know that the root of the word courage comes from the word for heart in other languages?" I inquired.

I could see his remarkable green eyes reveal the workings of his mind as he took in what I told him, could see the light of thought dawn within them. He simply said, "No, I never knew that."

I gave him a pillow I had and told him that on this pillow, the word courage was written on the inside, rather than the outside, of the pillow. He thanked me, tossed the pillow up in the air, and ran into the next room.

Courage, mon coeur. I am deeply humbled by the human struggles in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and other countries, and by the sheer courage of these people, most of whose names we will never know. A young man interviewed today on NPR commented that during the Egyptian protests, he watched one of his friends be shot dead, and yet, he returned to Tahrir Square.  Another man on today's news risked his life to try to get into Tripoli to see his daughter. And, on a smaller, safer scale, I applaud the efforts of people in Wisconsin and their courage. Unions there have already agreed to pay-cuts and paying their own health care, which will create significant savings. Taking away a union's bargaining rights does not create immediate savings. It does take a basic right away from hardworking people who help make our country good where it can be called good, teachers being among those hardworking folks.  There is no more important profession than teaching, and this country has a long history of not respecting (or fairly compensating) the caring, educated people who prepare our children for their futures.

What strength is in my own heart? Enough strength to die as an anonymous protester to help free a country from 30 years of dictatorial, abusive powers? I don't know, can't know, unless and until that moment comes.
I do know that the seat of my strength and inspiration is indeed inside that organic symbol, the heart. I have learned from watching our fellow brothers and sisters in other countries, that if one cannot feel injustice, one cannot correct it. We must mind the heart, my pun intended here, and beware the "dream of reason" that Goya alerted us to: "El sueño de razón produce monstruos". Así es, especially when we do not pair our thinking with our feeling, when we mistake will power as solely a mental device, and forget the lesson that linguistic history teaches us: Courage comes from the heart.

Next post:  research on connections between our brains and our hearts, based on medical research.


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