MAY has a distinct feeling: exhaustion, optimism, defeat, despair, hope, etc. Last year I wrote about what it felt like in a high school around this time of year. (Appreciation #58: Mid-May In A High School) The feelings are similar this time around. I’m encouraged and excited and disgusted and embarrassed.
MORELS appear in the spring. This is the first spring I’ve ever looked for them. And, turns out, some have been popping out of the ground right in front of my school. They probably have been for years. Years. Isn’t that wild?
MOMENTS of BADASSERY is a way of saying stories that mean something, or evidence of heroism, or things to emulate, or any number of things. I wrote about the word badass last year. I miss hearing it in Saipan. (Appreciation #86: Ass, Badass, Badassery)
Sometimes when I need inspiration I like to read through Hebrews 11. In history class, I’ve tried to highlight specific moments that, like the video “What Is History For?” ,from The School of Life suggests can serve as an antidote to various ailments or places in needs of inspiration. I like to think about these moments:
MOMENTS OF BADASSERY
50 years ago Martin Luther King Jr. marched, organized, boycotted, and spoke about his dream of equality. He once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Someone shot him.
JFK asked us to ask ourselves what we could do, not wait for someone else. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” He also said we’d stand on the moon. We did. Someone shot him.
His brother, RFK campaigning for President, broke the news that MLK had been shot. He was optimistic, charismatic, hopeful of what this country could become. He once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Someone shot him too.
History is littered with heroic acts of humanity. Yes, horrendous, and heinous acts too. Often the heroics are linked or a reaction to the horrendous stuff. History is littered with people, famous and obscure, and some now forgotten, who acted and reacted in many ways worth knowing about, ways we can learn from, and be inspired by.
MOMENTS, if you will, OF BADASSERY. Choose another word if you want. Noteworthy, memorable, admirable, illustrative, likely to be on a history test someday, inspiring. What moments have you read about, seen, made yourself? Notice how they boil down to a verb. Notice too how important the context and background of all these events is. Change and revolution and innovation is so often a recipe of many people working together, and reacting, and acting, and repeating. A parade with one person is just someone out for a walk. Or is it?
Some spoke truth to power, some published, some posted. Some marched with weapons, some with signs. Some voted, some ran, some resisted, some wrote. Some arrested others, and some were arrested. Some studied, some searched, some found, some stole, some created. Some made, some persisted, some listed, and some enlisted. Some showed judgment, and some showed mercy. Some traveled and some stayed. Some wept, and some laughed, and many did both. Some lit themselves on fire or shot themselves in the head. Some built, and some burnt. Some created order, some chaos, some order out of chaos. Some lit candles into a dark world, and some tried everything in their power to blow them out.
Notice the past tense above. Some still do this. Today, right now. Even you?
Can writing a list, going for a walk, sitting down, forgiving, solving a riddle, listening, washing your hands, and persisting alter the course of history? It can. Check this out:
500 years ago Martin Luther wrote a list and nailed it to a church door. The world has never been the same. WROTE A LIST.
48 years ago Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and said “this is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” WENT FOR A WALK.
62 years ago Rosa Parks sat down in the front of a bus, and would not give up her seat. SAT DOWN.
23 years ago Nelson Mandela became President of a nation that imprisoned him for decades. He did not seek revenge, he asked the nation to forgive. FORGAVE.
218 years ago a stone was found in the Egyptian desert. 20 years later, humans could read Egyptian Hieroglyphics because of what was written on the Rosetta Stone. SOLVED A RIDDLE.
Today, Darryl Davis, a black man, routinely receives KKK robes in the mail from people he has befriended who have left the Klan, largely because he talked to them. (Watch the documentary “Accidental Courtesy” on NETFLIX) LISTENED.
171 years ago Hungarian doctor convinced his hospital colleagues to wash their hands before delivering babies. And fewer babies died. And people mocked him his whole life. WASHED HANDS.
138 years ago Thomas Edison tried thousands of different filaments to go inside a lightbulb. It looked like failure after failure after failure. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” PERSISTED.
In 1936, 81 years ago, Jesse Owens, an African American won 4 gold medals at the Berlin Olympics while Adolf Hitler watched.
In 1947, 70 years ago, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball.
In 1855, 162 years ago, Walt Whitman self published twelve poems he called Leaves of Grass. He kept adding to it and republishing it throughout his life. In 1892, 37 years after his first edition, he published what has been called “The Deathbed Edition” of Leaves of Grass. It included more than 300 poems.
Etc. etc. etc.
Hope you have many moments like this bouncing around in your head, and keep adding to them every day.
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