What is Courage?


“Without COURAGE, we cannot practice any other virtue consistently.”
– Maya Angelou

Courage as a root word come from the Latin root “cor” which means heart. It evolved to mean bravery. I think its original root tells the true source and nature of courage in humanity. I believe it takes heart or caring to act courageously.

I have three examples of what I would call courageous behavior. These are examples of people who have taken bold steps in their lives and made some big and invaluable changes to our past, present, and even for my, our, and their own futures.

One is from the past and goes into the present. The person I would call courageous is Dame Stephanie Shirley also known as Steve Shirley who founded Freelance Programers in 1962, an all woman computer company. Her story is well told in a TED talk and, particularly, from TED talks on NPR.org.

This is the link: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/?showDate=2016-10-14
The show about Steve Shirley, as she is known in the business world, is:
“Dame Stephanie Shirley: How Do You Break Into an Industry While Breaking ALL the rules?”

Another example is a continuation of a story about the courage of the 21 children who are part of Our Children’s Trust who are suing the U.S. Federal Government about climate change and its impact on all of their futures and its impact on all children on the planet. You can see the other climate actions taking place around the world because of these kids when you go to their website:

These children and young adults appeared in court again in Eugene, OR along with their lawyers to continue the fight on September 7. No decision has been reached, yet. The fact that they are from all over the USA and are fighting for all American children and children world wide is very inspiring and courageous to me. They are legally fighting oil companies, and some of the biggest industries in this country. In my previous blog, I spoke about the youngest person, Levi Draheim, who is a plaintiff and who you can see in the corner of the photo in this story about Our Children’s Trust from that September 7, 2016.

Generational injustice: Inside the legal movement suing for climate action now

These young people are influencing other youths to step up and courageously join this law suit. From Maine, here is another story.

The final group where I have witnessed great courage, is Black Lives Matter movement. The first protests took great courage. Our “justice” system is broken for people of color. This truth has been hidden all over the USA for years. Exposing the lack of justice, particularly for African Americans, has taken great courage. Incarceration in the USA was becoming another “business”, that was destroying the lives of so many Americans of color. Our police forces have become more militarized. Not to mention the great number of innocent black people, women and men, who have died at the hands of some of our police officers.

This is not an easy or simple problem to solve. We cannot blame the entire problem on our police officers. I taught one summer at an inner city school. The school where I taught was only in a medium-size city. What I saw and the hopeless I saw in the 10 year-old children as assistant in the classroom, was deeply depressing and baffling. These kinds of neighborhoods are all across this country. This level of hopelessness exacerbates healing in these communities. This is a major problem to tackle and REAL CARE, not just window dressing, will “fix” it. I do not have the answers here. What I do know is that we have to work together in a respectful way of all people and face this together because whether we like it or not, we ALL created these neighborhoods with the history of race and racism that this country has had.

This is the story of the founding of the Black Lives Matter Movement:

It is people and children such as these that give me hope about our future. So often in the past and now, we are waiting for our political leaders to tackle what we need to change. We citizens and individuals working together, can be courageous together, just as Stephanie Shirley was and Our Children’s Trust and Black Lives Matter are already changing our world now for the better for each and every one of us.


And Our Children Shall Lead Us

For the title of this blog, I borrowed and altered the Bible quote “…and a little child shall lead them” from Isaiah 11:6.

These 21 children are fighting for their and our future. I had the good fortune to spend nearly three hours waiting in the airport with one of these children, Levi Draheim. He is the youngest plaintiff in a lawsuit, and he will be 9 years old in July. (He is in the vest in the front row.) As a former teacher, I enjoyed having several conversations with Levi while I waited for our plane.

Levi is part of Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit, which is suing the U.S. Government and Fossil Fuel Industry for damaging the environment because of the high CO2 levels and global warming that has ensued. On March 12, 2016, the “Rolling Stone” said this about the lawsuit:

“…the complaint lays out how the government has known since the 1960s that carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels directly contributes to global warming and a destabilized atmosphere, and yet continues to aggressively promote and subsidize fossil fuels extraction. This endangers the health and wellbeing of youth and future generations, .. and violates the plaintiffs constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.”

The federal judge, Magistrate Thomas Coffman, in Oregon ruled against the U.S. Government and the oil companies and in favor of these 21 children and Dr. James Hansen in March this year.

“When these kids spoke up, Big Oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Koch Industries got scared and through their trade associations joined the U.S. government in trying to stop the lawsuit.” This was part of the statement I got from the Our Children’s Trust website after I signed their petition. These are some of the companies these children are fighting against. Wow!

If you would like to stand with these children, you can sign a petition to support them on their website: http://ourchildrenstrust.org/.
I posted a copy of the petition on my Facebook page on Monday, April 25.

To read more stories about several of the children, who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, you can go to the following website:


Levi’s mother, Leigh-Ann Draheim, provided the photo that was taken in March 2016, which I used for this blog, and the websites for which I am very grateful.

The 21 children who are part of the Our Children’s Trust are speaking out for all of us on this beautiful earth. I am deeply grateful for their courage and leadership. Their actions inspire me and give me great hope concerning the future. Besides writing this blog, the other thing I can do is back their actions in whatever way I am able.



Nature where I live is a bit confused. Daffodils are blooming, crocuses are blooming, and it is just mid February!

Crocuses mid 2/2015

Confused Crocuses mid 2/2015

daffodils 2/2015

Confused Daffodils mid 2/2015

Being confused is not bad.  Even these daffodils are telling us something about our weather which we need to be aware of and act upon.

On a personal level, when I am confused – it doesn’t always feel good, but it is a sign to me that I need to check-into my own well-being, and investigate what is going on in my life and with myself. It also might mean, I need to “lighten up” and let go.

History and experience tell us that moral progress comes not in comfortable and complacent times, but out of trial and CONFUSION.”  – Gerald R. Ford

flowering fruit tree

Confused flowering fruit tree mid 2/2015

The turmoil and confusion of the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights Act, and the Women’s Movement brought us positive change in the past. Now the confusion around Climate Change and the Living Wage Movement are bringing into question scientific evidence, social justice, and equity issues in the USA. Thank you, CONFUSION!

This TED talk  creates a humorous atmosphere of confusion by Reggie Watt; it is called metamodernism:


Daphne bush

Confused Daphne bush mid 2/2015

My last thoughts about why confusion can be helpful and useful:

When we humans are open to others and confused, it is harder for us to be arrogant, and we are more likely to surrender control. Thus, we tend to be more open to learning something new, asking for help, and are more willing to work with others. These are some behaviors that this planet could use a lot of.


Confused Snowbells mid 2/2015

“I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.”  

  –   Johnny Depp