Posts tagged " courage "

We Shall Cower in Our Basements?

May 21st, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 43 comments

I just placed a library hold for a book reviewed in my morning paper. I have no idea when I will be able to pick it up. As in so many cities, our libraries are still closed. Why?

I understand that initially governments responded by closing down areas under their control. Yet, weeks have passed and libraries are still closed. What might have happened if libraries were privately run businesses that existed on yearly subscriptions? If they wanted me to renew my membership, they would realize that encouraging me to use only their download facilities might lead me to decide that my membership was no longer a worthwhile investment. 

Like many stores, private libraries might have organized pick-up appointments. Maybe it was time to resuscitate the idea of traveling librarians, who brought books (sometimes on horseback) to patrons who lived far from the library building.  Perhaps each returned book would be cleaned and put aside for 72 hours before recirculating. Owners and employees of a private business would be brainstorming to find ways to serve their customers. Yet, since the public library system and employees are on a government (read taxpayer) payroll, physical libraries, at least in my area, are simply closed.

I understand that those who are mourning the serious illnesses and deaths of loved ones are overwhelmed by this crisis. But, one of the saddest outcomes, in my opinion, has been the proliferation of fatalistic thinking, the very opposite of a traditional American can-do attitude.

Imagine if previous notable figures in American history were alive today and behaving as their modern counterparts are.  Instead of a General Washington who camped out at Valley Forge with his men during a brutal winter, we would have pictures of him feasting on venison at Mt. Vernon, similar to Nancy Pelosi’s tone-deaf shots of her ice cream selection.

Instead of hearing from Franklin Delano Roosevelt as we faced tough times during the Depression that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” we would hear, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” I may not agree that President Roosevelt’s solutions helped to end the Depression, but at least he projected confidence in a better future.

On the eve of D Day, General Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “Pessimism never won any battle.”  Imagine what might have happened had he told his troops, “Now is the time to fear all that could go wrong.” 

In response to Russian achievements in space, John F. Kennedy said, “…this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth.” Today’s leaders warn us that not only will we not have a vaccine soon, we may never be able to manufacture a reliable one. Life as we knew it, is over.

If you will cross the ocean with me for a moment, can you imagine that instead of Mr. Churchill declaring that “…we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…, he might say, “We must surrender our way of life, we will cower in our basements, we will hide in our homes, we will tremble in fear in the fields and in the streets.” 

Are we facing a challenge in our country and around the world? Certainly, we are. Yet, it is hard to find a time when victory was earned through fear, cowardice and pessimism, the guiding lights for far too many of today’s media voices and politicians.

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Courage. Faith. Principle

October 14th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

We spent Thursday night with a few hundred Christians who are picking grapes in Israel. Then we met a small group of new Jewish Israeli immigrants on Friday morning. All these people are in the “occupied territory,” a term designed to denigrate them and twist public opinion. How wonderful to be with strong and Godly people. You can catch an interview with some of these people on the current podcast.

Corridors to Courage

August 3rd, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

My radio show audience knows my oft-repeated slogan—the more that things change, the more we need to depend upon those things that never change

It is my conviction that what I call God’s Biblical Blueprint is the best information source about those things that never change.  Right now, things seem to be changing as rapidly and as profoundly as we have ever seen.   Thus, we even more urgently need to know how to deal with change.

Here are the three most important things to know about change. (i) Change is inevitable; (ii) Change is scary.  (iii) Change can be managed.

Change is inevitable because God placed us in a world of time with every ticking second heralding the new.  Our ability to live safely and comfortably depends upon cultivating easy adaptability to new circumstances. The keyword is new—and new means change.

Change is scary because we humans are most comfortable when we live under stable and predictable conditions.  Changes in health, financial, social, and family circumstances are just plain scary.  Change is usually scary even when the change is for the better.  For instance, a major promotion can be almost as scary as losing one’s job.

Change is best managed by acquiring courage.  To guide us through change, the Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, teaches us the phrase, “Be Strong and of Good Courage,” or in Hebrew, CHaZaK VeEMaTZ.  Every time this phrase is used, it is to encourage (see that word courage in there?) someone about to experience major change in life’s circumstances.

It is found in the context of God promoting Joshua to be Moses’ successor.  It is found when King David hands over the kingship to his son, and it is found in the context of Israel confronting its enemies in war.

The first word, CHaZaK, describes having sufficient strength to triumph over whatever one is up against.  For instance, the first Scriptural use of the word is,

Everyone came to Egypt to buy food from Joseph because the famine was CHaZaK, strong in all the land.
(Genesis 41:57)

The famine was strong enough to overwhelm the land. Joseph’s wisdom in storing food during the good years meant that Egypt had the strength to deal with the oncoming famine. One needs the strength to do what one sets out to do.

The second word, VeEMaTZ, means, ‘and be courageous,’ which is to say, have the courage and the will to use your strength.  For instance:

With strength she girds her loins and invigorates (VatAMeTZ) her arms.
(Proverbs 31:17)

The Hebrew word translated as ‘invigorates’ is the word EMaTZ suggests that having arms isn’t enough — one needs the fortitude to use them.

Winston Churchill claimed that World War II need never have taken place.  When Hitler reoccupied the Rhine Valley, violating the terms of the Versailles treaty that ended World War I, Britain and the allies, could have confronted him and precipitated his fall from power.  Instead, they hesitated. They possessed the military capacity—the CHaZaK, but they lacked the courage and the will—the EMaTZ to do so.

Thus, Scripture teaches that we must first be CHaZaK. Be strong enough to do whatever needs doing.  Once we know we can, we seek courage to give us the will to do what must be done.  Gaining the strength is a matter of strategy. Gaining courage is more complicated.

Here are three corridors to courage:

(1) Analyze each challenge you face separately so that you are not overwhelmed by an amorphous blob of fear.

(2) Cowardice is contagious. Courage is equally contagious. Keep company with people who possess it.

(3) In your imagination, constantly run a video of your fearlessness while repeating the mantra, ‘Be Strong and of good Courage,’ or CHaZaK Ve’ EMaTZ.

Change is constant.  Courage becomes constant with exercise and use. Courage will always be the best way to deal with change and the fears it generates.

 

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