Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mil Cosas

Mil Lubroth was an American artist of Polish and Russian descent who came to settle in Madrid, where her chic, short name took on an extra meaning. In castellano, Mil means a thousand. Just right for an artist whose work could never be "pinned down," or categorized by any one theme or direction.

To experience Lubroth's work is akin to hearing a chorus of voices from Sheherazade's 1001 nights: it is to see and feel a thousand things united in one intriguing and beautiful visual journey. If you are anywhere near Madrid during October, invite yourself to a banquet of Mil's "mil cosas" atAnnta Gallery. The exhibit that opens October 5th is the first retrospective of Lubroth's work since her death in 2004.

Spanning 50 years, these works reveal an artist who was never less than mature and skilled in her work. There is no sign of awkward beginnings, improvement over time or deepening development. Here is Minerva, beginning her artistic trajectory fully f…

A Cat, a Dog, and Shakespeare: The Perfect Sunday Afternoon

One reason I keep paying a cable bill is to be able to watch Turner Classic Movies. I had just finished a batch of Sunday chores and was resting a moment on the couch, wedged between Chatterly the cat and Gypsy the dog (an Australian Kelpie), and saw that TCM was about to air Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, and produced in 1953. 


I read Julius Caesar for the first time when I was in sixth grade. It was a great time to read it, because it seemed fresh and real to me, even though some of the centuries-old English was challenging. 


The movie made me wish that Joseph Mankiewicz had directed more of Shakespeare's works for cinema. The balance the movie strikes is oh, so totally just right. It does not go so far into cinematic territory that we lose the work's theatricality, but travels far enough by camera that it provides a sense of seamless reality only a movie can create.  The casting was brilliant.  James Mason was at his best as Brutus, and he carries the film on h…

Booked on Sugar

Sometimes the television remote control finds the channel for Destiny. I believe I was indeed destined to see Marc Aronson'sand Marina Buddhos's presentation to students at the Brooklyn Public Library based on their recent book, SugarChanged the World. Their program certainly changed my world. While written for a youth audience, this is a book that adults will enjoy, and naturally, a great book for parents to share with their children.

I often wonder at the parallels between drug addiction and food addiction in our culture. I know I'm not alone in this. You can't miss the similarities:  "Betcha can't eat just one.  Crave the crunch. Do you dream in chocolate? Hershey chocolate is bliss."  And, as noted in my earlier posts on  Super Bowl ads, when you see a man "snorting" Dorito crumbs .... well, I rest my case.

I've also thought about how quickly we "judge" people with substance abuse problems while the US clearly suffers from foo…