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  • Reverend James Squire

Truth Consequence Courage

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Photo by Brett Jordan

"Truth Or Consequence" is more than a name of a game show. It is what confronts our elected officials who will vote on part 2 of Donald Trump’s second impeachment. A few days after we celebrated The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day, his words should also be the theme for what lies ahead for our elected officials who claim that voting against Trump will further divide the country. Along with truth and consequence, we hear the words of Dr. King, “True peace is not the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” We must keep our eyes fixed on Trump’s enablers who were interested in keeping the big lie alive and well as they sought profit and power.

There is something else that must be part of our prayer life during this forthcoming trial and literally in our four years ahead under the Biden administration. Pray for courage for our elected officials. I remember as a young man reading John F. Kennedy’s, Profiles In Courage, where he wrote about people who stood up for truth when it was the risky and unpopular thing to do. They did what was right and not what yielded power or profit.

There is another book that is not as familiar to most people that speaks as well about the importance of courage. Like Kennedy’s book, John McCain’s reflections on courage in Why Courage Matters is a thin volume of 209 pages of inspiration. I have reread my dog eared copy many times.

If you have read my memoir or posts, you know that I feel that John McCain has “walked the walk” with courage. Here is some of his thinking as it relates to what is needed in our days ahead. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who made one of McCain’s key points when she said, “It is more important to need to have courage than to want to have it. Needing courage won’t guarantee it, but putting ourselves in situations that demand our courage will more likely stir it than day dreaming about it.”

McCain makes the point that when he lacked courage when a prisoner during the Vietnam War, it was because he was concerned about his own dignity. It wasn’t until he had a communal understanding of courage where his brave soldiers insisted on a community code of honor that his courage reappeared. That change in attitude brought about a shared responsibility for honor among all the prisoners. There was no “I”. There was just “We”.

Each member of my family has inspired me by demonstrating their courage. They have given me a high standard to live up to particularly my wife, Vicki!

There is no courage without fear first. I think of a woman student who fought cancer for most of her life and taught me and others “to live life from a deeper spot” before she died. I think of a former EA parent who lives each day with a serious cancer but moves through each day with the support of his family, friends, and teammates from his playing days. He asks the hard questions of his doctors knowing that he will get the hardest answers in response.

I think of that student who entered my office when he was in 10th grade. His first words were, “I am afraid.” I received an email from him as he was about to land in Islamabad on a dangerous mission for the army. He wrote that he was facing the most dangerous thing that he had ever done, but he was ready.

Perhaps the courage of Mitt Romney and John McCain will rub off on our elected officials during this trial. Courage involves fear and people at a crossroads where they must choose the easy wrong or the hard right.

They may have to look to Russia, of all places, for an example in Aleksei Navalny who is the loyal opposition to Putin. He was at death’s door after a poison attack ordered by Putin. He has returned to Russia knowing that he would be imprisoned and possibly killed, but he will not be silenced against a government whose leaders seek power and profit. He has inspired his followers and the non-government press to do the same.

Our elected officials need to know that America does not have a corner on the courage market. We are about to become part of the global community again where, like McCain, we will be inspired by local and global community effort to raise us up to seek the right thing to do in all things. Truth, consequence, and courage have always been the fertile ground of a moral life on this earth, our fragile island home.

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