A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
LONG LINES OF COURAGE
I saw courage this week.
Not the kind of courage that makes sportswriters wax lyrical when an athlete plays through pain. Nor was it the kind of courage that elicits respectful raves from editorial writers when a political leader takes a principled stand. It wasn’t even the kind of courage that brings tears to your eyes when you see brave people overcome tremendous adversity in their lives.
It was another level of courage beyond even that – the level of courage that has to be summoned when life and liberty are at stake. And the world is watching.
I’ve seen such courage only a few times in my 50
years on this planet. Rosa Parks
refusing to yield her place on the bus in
To those moving, memorable images can now be added
this new scene from January 2005: citizens of
Of course, I realize that standing in line to vote may seem like a simple thing to do when compared with dramatic events at those other memorable times and places. But remember that violence had been threatened against any and all who chose to vote – and this in a part of the world where threats of violence are very often carried out. Violently.
And yet, they came. They stood in long, meandering lines – defiantly, resolutely – and they voted. They emerged from their polling places with smiles on their faces, proudly waving ink-stained fingers as symbols of their new-found political power. They sang and danced in the streets. Many wept openly, unashamed. Despite threats of violence and predictions of failure, they voted. And for one day, at least, democracy flourished in a land unfamiliar with democratic processes, procedures and priorities.
Of course, so much can still happen as this great
democratic experiment moves forward. The
votes must be counted, the results tabulated and a new government installed and
inaugurated. There is still time for
intimidation, for threats, for violence.
The courage to vote must now be augmented by the courage to see this
thing through, and the courage to make it work.
But few of us fear for our lives when we vote.
While there are those who may appropriately wonder
about the way in which democracy was delivered to
That is why I am in awe of what I saw this week in
And their courage will live forever in our memory.
# # #
Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.