Faith over Fear!
Jay shares thoughts on courage – what it is, where it comes from and why it is so vitally important.
Courage is a mysterious and little understood thing. We know it when we see it. But we don’t really know where it comes from. We see someone confronted with a challenging, perhaps impossible, set of odds. We know that the rational response is for him or her to surrender, to submit, to run away, even to acquiesce or conform. Yet, they don’t. The summon up the will to fight, to push forward no matter the consequence. And this is called ‘courage.’ It draws on a power larger than self, a faith, an instinctive knowledge that there is in fact, no other choice. As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
Have you ever been faced with a moment where you must confront one of your most overwhelming fears? Have you ever found yourself in a situation that compels you to go above and beyond what you thought you might be capable of? On any given day, we might be faced with one of these moments and we have a choice: do we act courageously, or do we give into our fear? Over the last few weeks, the world has been witness to incredible examples of courage from the country of Ukraine, most notably their President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the first week of the invasion of his country, he was offered the chance to evacuate and instead of doing so, he staunchly responded by saying, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride." Since then, President Zelensky and many of his compatriots have bravely resisted their unjust aggressor, showing the world what courage under fire truly looks like. But what compels such courage? How, in a world that often projects hostility towards our aspirations, do individuals choose courage over fear?
There’s a line from the movie Miracle about the 1980 US Men's Hockey team, where coach Hal Brooks says to his team on the eve of playing the Russians for the gold medal match, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” When you read between the lines, what this means is that when we’re confronted by a challenge, and likely our rational fears that come along about how we face said challenge, we have a choice. We have a choice to understand such a moment as an opportunity to either accept fear or practice courage. It doesn’t mean we are no longer fearful. It means we choose to move forward regardless of our fears. If you think back on any notable moment in history, whether it be sports, politics, or beyond, those moments were only made possible because individuals chose to put their fears aside for the ones they loved, a value they believed in, or a country they cherished. There are many examples right here at home as well, most notably with our men and women in uniform.
Sometimes we may often think of courage as something innate within someone. To a large extent it does reside deep within our being. Yet it is often also a practice, a practice that can become habit, often with sacrifice, sacrifice that may make us question whether or not being courageous is worth it in the end. However, as we’ve seen in Ukraine, the courageousness and sacrifice of President Zelensky and the millions of Ukrainians who have chosen to fight alongside him have demonstrated what happens when we practice courage rather than choose fear. They’ve been an extraordinary beacon of hope during a very uncertain time, and a shining example of how courage empowers others to act courageously as well, creating a groundswell of momentum that ultimately allows the human spirit to thrive. Not only that, but this demonstration of courage reminds me of just how powerful and important a weapon courage is, and has been, when it comes to the advancement of our collective good throughout history. Fortunately, during our lives, most of us will have the good fortune of never having to face the kinds of challenges those on the ground in Ukraine currently face. However, let their examples of courage and sacrifice encourage us, inspire us, and reinforce the notion that no matter what you feel when faced with life's challenges, courage is a force for good and will always triumph positively over fear.
Ukraine in Crisis – New Hampshire Responds
While the war in Ukraine continues to rage on, our own small, but mighty, corner of the world is banding together to help those who have been caught in the crossfire and been victimized by the violence. Granite Stater’s as a community have come together to find new and innovative ways to help our friends across the world hang on in their fight for freedom with the formation of the ‘New Hampshire Ukraine Relief Fund.’
Thanks to the inspiration of Fred Kocher at WMUR, my great friend David Tille, Sean O’Kane, Alex Ray, John Tinios, Patrick Tufts, Dean Kamen and many others, companies like DEKA are collecting medical and humanitarian supplies in Manchester, and they have partnered with WMUR, the United Way, and the Common Man Restaurants to help bolster the efforts. I am not at all surprised at this. Growing up in New Hampshire I have always known that we who live here are some of the most giving and selfless people in all the world and once again we are rising to the challenge and living up to our reputation.
While the collection will end on April 16th if you want to continue to help the New Hampshire-Ukrainian relief effort you can text NH4Ukraine to 41444.
Bedford Cares – for Bedford and Beyond!
Philippians 2:4 - Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.”
These are strong and powerful words and truly describe the mindset of the people of New Hampshire. With over 5600 charitable organizations in the Granite State, the compassion of our citizens truly makes a difference. One such organization is Bedford Cares, founded by State Senator Denise Ricciardi. This great initiative founded to help the residents of Bedford, is now not only taking care of citizens right here in the Granite State, but is reaching out across the world to help the citizens of Ukraine as well.
When the pandemic changed our lives forever, Bedford Cares rose from the ashes like a phoenix ready to take to the skies and help those in need. As we recall, the tough decisions and actions taken during the pandemic had a huge ripple effect and truly impacted our most vulnerable population. Senator Ricciardi took action. Within days she created a makeshift food pantry in her home while organizing volunteers to provide rides for those who needed a lift to a medical appointment. Fun and factorial note; if you called the Bedford Cares hotline, you got Senator Ricciardi! The number went right to her home. The organizational and operational execution of Bedford Cares has truly made a difference and helped many overcome obstacles during the pandemic and even until today, Bedford Cares is now taking on a global crisis by supporting the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Many members of the community have friends and family in Ukraine. The travesty that has occurred is unthinkable. Rather than talk about it, Bedford Cares has taken action. Once again Senator Ricciardi’s home is filled with donated items ready to be sent over to Ukraine to help those in need. Recently, The Inside Scoop hosted ‘Cones for Ukraine which raised $1050 to purchase first aid kits. Just this week Bedford Cares hosted an art exhibition and conversation featuring a Ukrainian artist - Katya Roberts. These types of activities are making a major difference for the people of Ukraine, and I know Senator Ricciardi and Bedford Cares won’t be stopping anytime soon!
I highlight these efforts for I want us to think about the quote from Philippians 2:4 that was referenced above. Everyone can truly make a difference by watching out for others. As we begin our tradition of spring cleaning, consider how impactful that old coat or those unused blankets could be to a person in need. Now more than ever, we need to be there for others and we need a Bedford Cares in our community. Keep up the great work Senator Denise Ricciardi! Karen and I will be dropping off some articles to help the cause.
To learn more about Bedford Cares, please visit www.bedfordnh.net.
Positive Profile of the Week: Lech Wałęsa
We are delighted to highlight this week a man of true courage: Lech Walesa, former President of Poland. Several years ago, Karen and I hosted a reception in D.C. where we were visited by President Walesa, where we had the pleasure of speaking with him and getting to know this great man. Now, with all that is happening in the world, I was reminded of Lech’s character and his real-life story that vividly demonstrates what one man can do to change the world!
Born and raised in German-occupied Poland in 1943; Walesa became a mechanic and electrician while also spending some time serving in the Polish military. A strong advocate for workers' rights, Walesa organized several strikes against high food prices, for students' rights, and in solidarity against the Soviet government at the shipyard he worked. Largely because of these actions, martial law was enacted, and he was imprisoned for 11 months.
After his release, Walesa was involved in multiple negotiation efforts with the Soviet government to peacefully solve the nation's problems. In 1983, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions, and in 1989, Walesa was awarded the American Medal of Freedom. In that same year, he became only the third foreigner and the first non-head-of-state to address a joint session of the US Congress. Running for president of Poland in the 1990 free elections - the first free election in 63 years - he was victorious against the Soviet Party's former prime minister. Walesa was instrumental in transitioning his nation to the free market and joining NATO.
In 1995, he founded the Lech Walesa Institution to encourage the next generation to support democracy. Today, the Institute is helping to collect items for the crisis in Ukraine.
Lech Walesa is a man who has remained true to his purpose throughout his life. President Walesa will be the special guest speaker at New England College’s graduation ceremony this spring where will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the New England College Board of Trustees for his bravery in championing democracy during the end of the Cold War.
We are blessed to know President Walesa and host him here in our Granite State!
Quotes of the Week: Courage
“The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage.”
“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.”
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
“Courage is grace under pressure.”