What does it take to stand up for your beliefs? Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you were faced with giving up or fighting back?
We are witnessing an interesting phenomenon in our country and our world right now. People are fighting back, sometimes literally.
The unrest is real and palpable, whether we are talking about the racial tension in North America or the battle for freedom in Hong Kong. They are fighting against oppression, against tyranny, and against fear.
For those who risk physical harm, why engage the stronger forces of the government? And for those who risk being blacklisted by employers, friends and family, or even the State, why risk “throwing your life away?”
Perhaps they realize that life is worth the struggle. Their independence from political elites is more important than working a dead-end job so someone else can get rich. Perhaps they would rather keep an honest name than be remembered as a coward. Or maybe they are tired of feeling like a muted voice in a room full of choir singers.
In one of his letters, Seneca wrote, “As Cicero says, gladiators who seek by every means to preserve their life, we detest, but we favor those who wear their disregard of it like a badge. Know that the same outcome awaits us all, but dying fearfully, often, is itself a cause of death.”
Dying fearful is a fate worse than death if the life you left had no meaning or no impact.
That sense of dignity to die well in the name of a cause greater than yourself is found throughout history. Native tribes and Spartans both believed in the greater good of their communities and were willing to die valiant deaths to keep them safe.
We often think of the Samurai as a warrior people, going so far as to commit seppuku if they were dishonored or their master called for it. Their fierceness in battle and in life is legendary.
What would they say about having the backbone to fight in the face of danger? In the Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo wrote, “Courage is gritting one’s teeth; it is simply doing that and pushing ahead, paying no attention to the circumstances.”
Being courageous doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. It means fighting back anyway. Even when the army is superior, the cause looks fragile and failing, or the city walls are caving in, we must meet our adversaries head-on.
I am reminded of a song by Casting Crowns. Regardless of the religious overtones, the message speaks to our time.
We were made to be courageous
We were made to lead the way
We could be the generation
That finally breaks the chains
In many ways, the people who changed history were those who were willing to fight back, those who exhibited courage in the face of an enemy. They were an intolerant minority with the gall and gumption to not only stand up, but also to not stand down when they met resistance.
Are you taking a stand and being courageous?