Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Speaking truth to power

Rosa wasn't the first. As the story goes, other young women, who weren't secretary for the local NAACP, one of whom was in fact a soon-to-be unwed mother, had previously refused to give up their damn seats, and had been arrested for it. But due to her exemplary credentials, the still nascent civil rights community chose to take up Rosa Parks' case and use it as a touchstone for a world-changing decade-long campaign, the aftershocks of which we are still coming to terms with.

No matter. Rosa Parks still deserves her place in history. She was willing to be that icon, and that took the strength of thousands of unknowns who supported her as well as deep wells of her own fortitude. She helped create a mythology that continues to resonate, because it's based on a deep truth, as all good myths are. And more to the point, well, she coulda been killed.

We like to think we will be able to speak truth to power when the stakes are high. But it's easier said than done. Too often, really, it's done through comedy -- a powerful weapon, to be sure, but humor rarely has that finishing punch that absolute sincerity has. Even more frequently we see it done with anger aflame. It's risky, in this day, to face the ridicule that comes with seriousness and calm. Dignity. Not dignity devoid of humor or passion, but dignity that subordinates those important aspects of ourselves to a greater goal -- justice, truth, love.

Rosa Parks did an exemplary job of embodying that dignity. In retrospect, it's hard to believe it was possible, what she did and what she represented. I'm not so sure I would be alive today if not for her seizing her moment and holding onto it. So, selfishly, I have to say - thank you, Mrs. Parks.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?