The Courage of Ukraine on the Streets Of America
Democracy is at risk in Eastern Europe and the U.S., too
There are times when we have the opportunity to be courageous.
Some of you know about that firsthand. You have risked much of what you hold dear for the welfare of another person, your nation or a vision of the future.
Most of us, of course, will never exercise that kind of courage. Even if the moment for it presents itself, we let it go by.
Daily, we are impressed by the courage of Ukraine. People in and out of uniform risk their lives without any assurance they will succeed in preserving their democracy and their nationhood.
They are likely very afraid. They’re supposed to be. Courage is not fearlessness, it’s overcoming fear.
But for as long as they survive, they are living their best lives. That’s the real reward for courage. They’re living in the high country, where despite the smoke of battle, the air is clean and clear. Their eyes have been opened wider than they have ever been before.
That’s what it’s like when you see who you are, and love yourself for what you have committed to do. You, and your comrades, stand as tall as anyone on earth.
The key to exercising that kind of courage is to discard the need for assurance that significant personal sacrifice will be rewarded by success. When we take the biggest risks, we don’t know whether it will all be for naught.
It’s the same for less rare kinds of courage. Sometimes we have to fight off a criminal or defend an unjustly-accused friend. When we ask for a raise, we don’t know if we’re going to get it or be dismissed. It may be hard to ask for a date, start a business or speak in public.
These exercises of everyday courage may not compare with what’s happening in Eastern Europe. The stakes are so much higher there.
In Ukraine, they fear they’ll lose their democracy. Every person of courage is aligned against that eventuality. They expect to die for their country.
In the United States, we risk the loss of our democracy, too. We are actually very close to that eventuality.
It is not so different. The United States is on the point of being ruled by a kleptocracy similar to Russia’s. Otherwise, how can we credibly explain that a bill to limit the cost of insulin to diabetics was almost defeated in the House, and is in trouble in the Senate?
A fascist demagogue, ousted from the Oval Office, still retains majority support of his party, despite his attempt to foil the 2020 election.
A nominee to the Supreme Court was accused of being pro-pedophile in an attempt to discredit her.
Power and money have become the scaffolding of our nation’s minority party. It is indebted to a network of corporate oligarchs. It is supported at polling places by a segment of the electorate that wants to retain its wealth, whether it exists today or in the future, as a figment of individual imagination.
This minority largely opposes equal rights in all its forms. And it is poised for hegemony.
The only peaceful way to prevent this minority from seizing power is the November 5 election. It seems hopeless, however, with several tiny states poised to elect onerous Senators, and so many House districts gerrymandered to prevent fair representation.
None of that will happen, however, if right-thinking Americans rush into the breach and vote in the numbers that are possible. If all Americans desperate to preserve their democracy actually voted, no gerrymander could stop them.
There are anti-democratic efforts to reduce voting throughout the South. But if voters make the counting of their ballots a priority, enough will prevail.
It’s counterproductive to count the numbers in defeat before the election is even held. If Americans throng the polls and fill the mailboxes, they will preserve their democracy.
If they do what they need to do, they need not consider the odds.
They are in the high country.
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