Monday, 28 June 2010
I have been reading Gordon Brown’s book “Courage” (Bloomsbury, 2007). In the introduction he comments: “Stories of people who took brave decisions in the service of great causes entralled me, especially when more comfortable and far less dangerous alternatives were open to them.” He goes on to explain the inportance and role of courage as he re-tells eight remarkable stories. His chosen eight are Edith Cavell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Raoul Wallenberg, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Ciceley Saunders and Aung San Suu Kyi. Courage is not about the absence of fear, but about coping with it and overcoming it. These stories certainly demonstrate that and each one offers a great deal of inspiration. It set me wondering whose eight stories would I tell if I set myself a similar project. Inevitably, there are many possibilities and I guess I would choose some of the same people as those chosen by Gordon Brown. I guess I might choose three of the same, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. But who else would I choose? Possibly Therese of Lisieux who gave herself to a ministry of prayer and devotion despite incredibly poor health. Possibly Dr. Kao, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan at a time when human rights were at a low ebb in that country and who was arrested and jailed for over four years for speaking out as to what was right. Possibly Ephraim Alphonse who gave years to work with the Guyami indigeneous people in Panama and who was the first to write down their language as part of offering God’s love to that people. Possibly Laszlo Tokes who as a minister of the Hungarian Reformed Church in Timisoara in Romania was a big part of the resistance that sparked the Romanian revolution. And who would get the last place? Mother Teresa? Oscar Romero? Desmond Tutu? Eric Liddell? Or someone else? Or, to take another line, what about eight people from the Bible, who offer stories of courage? That might be Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Jeremiah, Daniel, Mary, Peter and Paul. Who would you choose – and how do they inspire you?