First Humility... There are many challenges that we face as individuals and as a nation. Like the explorer looking out at the great unexplored ocean, we must come to terms with the ways of viewing the world that have served to discouraged us, and others before us. We must overcome the myths that function to prevent us from going beyond the prescribed boundaries of this vast sea of possibilities that we call life. To venture beyond the boundaries that limit our lives, it becomes imperative that we deconstruct our fears.
Life is filled with many perils; some real, and some imagined. We must face and overcome these perils in our quest to live into the beckoning horizons of a broader, more fulfilling life. Some of the perils we must face are presented to us as great monstrous beasts, ready and waiting to destroy us and our dreams of a more fulfilling life. Monsters may be all too real in our imaginations, but in reality they are only as real as our fears about them. We should not carelessly discount the dangers that are present in our world. In fact, we must eventually come to terms with our responsibility to overcome them if we are to succeed in our quest to broaden our horizons... to better our lives. Every idea we cultivate about the world and the dangers therein, results in choices that either encourage us to move forward, or generate in us the fears that keep us in a state of despair.
Where do we begin in our quest to overcome the monsters that inhabit our ocean of possibilities? We must begin by admitting our own limitations. We do not always have the resources to tackle the various challenges we face. Where this is the case, we must humbly acknowledge it. Humility is the willingness to admit to our own deficiencies. In the absence of humility we rush forward with a certain hubris that leads to our demise. Humility saves us from the certain destruction that awaits us when we rush into battles we are unprepared for. The truth here being that we cannot act effectively without the resources required to accomplish the tasks ahead of us. It may be a deficiency of will that we suffer from... an inability to act in our own interest. We may face a deficiency of knowledge, or technical abilities. It is never a good idea to "take a knife to a gun-fight". Whatever we lack in our efforts to move toward to a better future, we can begin to acquire by first admitting the fundamental truths about our inadequacies.
Then Courage... Moving forward against the challenges we face requires the appropriate resources, and the will to act against whatever those challenges are. The aweful beasts that inhibit our will to act thrive on our insecurities about them.The more fearful we are, the more powerful they become. The will to act is what we commonly call courage. Courage, we are told, is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to engage in the battle for our lives and our futures despite the inherent dangers of doing so. Courage is the will to act despite our fears. There are no guarantees that we will win every battle; but we must never give up in the fight against those forces that stand in the way of us realizing our potentials as the exquisitely limitless beings that we are meant to be.
In our own times we have great examples of men and women who have lived their lives in tribute to the will to act, despite the risks to themselves. From the champions who risked everything in their stand against Slavery and colonial domination, to the bulwarks against Apartheid and Jim Crow. From the courageous maroon Nanny to the enablers of the Underground Railroad. From Sam Sharpe to Marcus Mosiah Garvey. From Mahatma Ghandi to Nelson Mandela. From Fanny Lou Hamer to Rosa Parks to The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King to Malcolm X... to all those in whose lives and examples the struggle against injustice now continues. These lives, and the many others like them who stood up to Fascism, Nazism, and all the other expressions of Xenophobia in our time, are testaments to courage. They are shining examples of what can be accomplished when, individually and communally, we cultivate the will to act against the monstrosities arraigned against us. Our courage will bear fruit, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
And Then Wisdom... Wisdom is the product of the distillation of all our experiences. It is the exquisite wine that flows from the press of Life's university. Wisdom is the Word that leaves the peddlers of words...speechless. It, wisdom, is what is to be learned from all that we have learned.
It is Wisdom that helps us to separate fact from fiction in the myths that become the foundation of our fears. Wisdom opens our eyes so that we are able to see our own viciousness in the brutality of the monsters that we project into the depths of the unexplored oceans, and in the dark underworld of our national and our communal lives. Wisdom helps us discover ourselves in the others we conveniently speculate about in order to disguise our own cruelty, and our deepest insecurities. Wisdom forces us to consider how our own insecurities inform the viciousness in ourselves, and that which we assign as the defining characteristic of fellow creatures whom we regard with suspicion and fear.
Wisdom teaches us that we cannot conquer fear with hate. In the midst of our own internal turmoil, Wisdom calls us to act to heal ourselves... not to perpetuate our dysfunctions by creating scapegoats for the hypocritical expiation of our transgressions. Wisdom requires of us that we take responsibility for the strengthening and enlightenment that we need... That we dispel our ignorance and the fear that proceeds from it through learning... That we develop the tools we need to clear the path to our futures. She, Wisdom, awakens in us the will to act even in the presence of our insecurities. Wisdom bids us go forth into the unknown, knowing that the truthfulness that proceeds from our humility is a trustworthy partner in our will to act on the journey of discovery that is our life... And our future.
And so as we set out on the adventure of our lives - let us take these three things with us... humility, courage, and wisdom. Together they will serve us well. Like the sages in our spiritual traditions, let us pray for: "the humility to accept the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference".