“We’re all somewhat courageous, and we’re all considerably cowardly. We’re all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.”
– Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
American actor, film director, author, and diplomat, Sidney Poitier, was born on this day in 1927.
In 1964, Poitier became the first Bahamian and the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies in the Field. He also won the Golden Globe for this role.
Poitier was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974. From 1997 to 2007, he served as the non-resident
Bahamian ambassador to Japan. On August 12, 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama. In 2016, he was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film. [Wikipedia]
One could read that quote by Poitier and then review his career and ask “what imperfections?”
But in reality, Poitier’s recoginition is the fact that we’re all broken, that we all struggle, we all face challenges.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the struggles Poitier likely faced in Hollywood in the early 1960s are vastly different than any that I have faced.
As an upper-middle-aged, white guy from Southwest Virginia, there’s only so much that I can do in terms of understanding.
What I do understand is that we all face challenges.
I understand that there are times in life when we are courageous, and likely times in life when we are not.
This past week we’ve all admired and honored those teachers who bravely protected their students during the Florida shooting at the cost of their own lives.
I would hope that in that situation, I would act the same way.
I hope that I, and you, never have to know the answer to that question.
But, while we may not be in that situation, no doubt we will all face challenges. That’s a part of life.
Life is good. It is also a struggle.
That’s why I have such a hard time when the hateful rhetoric flows on social media. I know people are hurting. I know people are passionate about their beliefs.
But don’t confuse the ability to post your rant or share a meme with courage.
Likewise, don’t pretend that your comment of “thoughts and prayers” is bravery.
I have withheld much of my comments on current issues…don’t get me wrong…I have a post simmering, but it may stay on the stove.
Not, as I have said, because I don’t care. But, because I’m not sure it would be productive.
Whether that’s a courageous stance or pure cowardice, I’m not quite ready to say.
Maybe it’s just being practical, and maybe there’s a little bravery in that.
I don’t have the answers. I can’t fix all the things that are wrong.
I will admit that, as I write this, I am endeavoring to determine or discover just exactly where and how I can contribute and make things better.
I think that’s it.
In my own corner of the world, I can work to make things better…around my house and home, around my day job, around the arts community…and maybe a little here on the Interwebz.
I can’t start a movement, but I can move me, and maybe you.
That’s gonna take some courage from all of us.