Friday, January 14, 2005

What is Courage? What is self destructive unproductive idiocy?

I wrote yesterday asking where are the public views opposing the ban of the books. I haven't seen anything in print. Obviously, a chareidi, or yeshivish rav, or public person, coming out against the ban, puts himself in a precarious position, open to criticism and retribution.

John F. Kennedy, in Profiles in Courage, defined Courage as "grace under pressure." I think what he meant was finding the right thing to do under trying circumstances. Sometimes it is "better to fight and run away and live to fight another day." Sometimes it is better to fight to the death. The only story I remember from the book is about Edmond G. Ross, a member of congress during the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. His was the key vote, if he voted to convict, the president would be convicted. If he voted against, he would be acquitted. He gave a speech, and the most memorable line was

".. I look down upon my open grave.."

(or something like that). Voting against would mean the end of his political career, being subject to intense criticism and abuse from members of his own party.
Despite the pressure, he followed his conscience, and voted against conviction. His prediction came true, and that was the end of his political career. He had no regrets.

Pasuk of the week: Viyikra(Leviticus) 19:15 "... lo tehedar penai gadol, b'tzedek tishpot amitecha." (In matters of justice).. do not give reverence to the (face of ) the mighty(literally gadol), with justice you should judge your neighbor"

I cant ask anyone to put their career at risk, and I cant guarantee that I would have the courage to follow the correct path, only that they should try to do the right thing.

Shabbat Shalom

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