What would you risk your life, reputation or freedom for?

Posted on February 1, 2010


What would you stand up for?

Chris Guillebeau at the Art of Nonconformity wrote a  post about Malcolm X that got me thinking.

Consider the times in history when great change occurred.  I’m inspired by the changes promoted by people like:

  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and other U.S. civil rights leaders
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Rachel Carson
  • Mother Theresa

Seems to me these people inspired change by (1) declaring a position or a principle, (2) committing to that position, and (3) following through.  These steps required clarity about their values and passions, courage, conviction and the willingness to take risks.  For some, the risk was to reputation or freedom.  For some, the risk was to security and comfort.  For others the risk was to their lives.  What drove them to take these risks?  Righteousness?  Burning desire?

In our modern (for now) era, the noise of information, technology and social expectations can sometimes fuzz our understanding of our principles and soften our conviction.  Who do you think acts with the type of courage and conviction that drove change in the past?  Do we have any such heroes now?  Will we be able to make the same kind of change now as has been made in the past?

And – for you (and me), a question.  Is there anything that matters so much to you that you would risk reputation or comfort or security to champion it? (or even freedom or life?)  My own answer: I don’t know. I might risk life or freedom for my children, but having never faced the need, I don’t know.  Risking reputation or comfort seems more feasible (tho’ in this day and age, perhaps that’s not such a big deal)  This troubles me.  Finding a calling and living a life that matters require a comparable level of conviction and courage.

What do you think? Are there any risk takers and champions out there?  Are you struggling – or is this an irrelevant question?

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