The Courage to Risk Everything
- Freedom is never given; it is won.
- — A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979)
- The results announced by the Central Electoral
Commission are rigged. Do not believe them. Our president is Yushchenko. I
am very disappointed by the fact that I had to interpret lies. I will not
do it any more. I don't know if you will see me again.
- — Natalia Dmitruk, Sign Language Presenter, Ukrainian
TV Channel UT-1
As reported by Mosnews, the Ukrainian news anchors
faithfully announced the presidential election results, saying that Viktor
Yanukovich, the candidate supported by the current Ukrainian president and
the Russian president, would be the new Ukrainian president.
Except for Natalia Dmitruk. After the broadcast,
Dmitruk joined Yushchenko's supporters who had taken to the street, a
quarter of a million strong, to protest the voter fraud in Kiev. And her
announcement gave the other news anchors the courage to report the truth
about Yushchenko’s election.
With her courageous action and the uprising in the
streets, Ukraine's highest court threw out the tainted election and
ordered a runoff between Yushchenko and Yanukovich on December 26.
But sometimes, civil protest does not result in a
An example appears in the book "Arc of Justice" by
Kevin Boyle (Henry Holt, 2004). The book details the struggle of the
physician Ossian Sweet and his wife Gladys when they bought a bungalow in
the white portion of Detroit in 1925. When a mob attacked his home, he
defended the house with a group of black men, including his brothers. The
ensuing events left one white man dead. Both Dr. and Mrs. Sweet were
jailed; they and some of the others were charged with the crime. The NAACP
became aware of the case and came to their defense, launching the Legal
Defense Fund and eventually winning the trial. But while she was in jail,
Mrs. Sweet contracted tuberculosis — and then gave it to their only
surviving child, Ivah. Both Ivah and Mrs. Sweet died a few years after the
Dr. Sweet continued to live in the bungalow. Beaten
down by two subsequent failed marriages, a failing practice, and failing
health, he committed suicide in 1960.
Nevertheless, the NAACP continued its Legal Defense
Fund. And it fought against Jim Crow laws in both the North and the South.
Other heroes came — Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall,
Alex Pitcher, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marian Wright Edelman, and others. Even
though Dr. Sweet lost all that he held dear in his fight against
segregation, his efforts created a momentum and finally, a movement.
The question is, when do you engage in civil
disobedience? When do you risk everything for the greater good?
When you can’t stand to look at yourself in the
mirror if you don’t do something.
When you can’t respect yourself if you don’t call
When you wake in the middle of the night and pray for
the courage to speak.
There are no guarantees that your protest will work
and you’ll be seen as the hero.
In fact, your voice may never be heard at all.
But you never know if you don’t try.