Sunday, June 7, 2015
What is Brave? What is Courage? What is Heroic? What is happening??
Is it just me or has this been a brutal week on social media? With the announcement and magazine cover release regarding a former Olympic athlete and a change made with gender it seems it unleashed feelings from every corner of the plate.
I, myself, shared a meme that was fairly viral that used the words brave and courage in it to describe something completely different. The beautiful irony of it was that the artist who rendered that depiction in the picture was a cross dresser himself. His story touched me deeply as he was brutally beaten for his self expression. That's unacceptable at any level for anything or anyone.
The controversy seems to lie in the words brave and courage and even now heroic. Some haven taken offense at those words being used to describe the former Olympian and his/her life choice. Others find offense in the expression of being offended (did you follow me there?)
It seem that no matter what you feel or say, there is going to be someone to slam you for it. And sadly, some of the slams were and are pretty harsh.
So it got me to thinking. What IS the right answer when it comes to using those adjectives?
I think Splenda Daddy accurately stated it in one our conversations when he said, "Bravery is in the eye of the beholder"
The overwhelming argument I'm seeing on social media is that a military person deserves the honor and distinction of being called brave and courageous, not someone who made a life choice to alter their body to become someone else (regardless if they deep down feel it was the right thing to do)
I am going to go out on a limb here and say - can both be brave in their own way?
Life experiences, people we interact with, our own religious beliefs and morals are the guides that help each individual determine what it brave and courageous to them. AND perhaps what level of bravery or courage is required.
For example, when my nephew (whom I love very much) got the courage to inform his family that he was gay and was choosing to live that lifestyle and pursue happiness his own way had to be incredibly difficult for him. The fact that he sat down with each of his aunt's and uncles and had a one on one talk with them and expressed himself had to have been hard. It took courage for him to do that. He could have let his parents inform everyone and he could have drifted away and chosen not to face anyone for fear of how people would react. But he didn't. Instead, he stepped up and without knowing how each of us would react, he shared. I hope he remembers the love that was expressed to him and is continually sent his way. He's an important part of our extended family, and while our religious belief's differ, I can look at that time years ago, and say yes, it took courage and bravery to face his family and reveal his identity.
I have a friend who served as a young Marine in the position of a machine gunner. He served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and lived in perilous times both tours. He lost brothers to injury or death during the wars and yet he climbed up into his turret every day and manned his position in an effort to provide protection and covering fire. In my eyes, Clint is extremely brave, courageous and indeed a hero.
Looking at these two differing experiences, people and situations I then go back and rely on my own deeply held moral and religious belief's and life experiences to determine, if asked, which one is more brave and more courageous. Not that *my* opinion takes away from the actual bravery needed in either of the situations, but as human beings, we are going to make distinctions. It's our nature, it's the moral compasses that direct us to do so, and for those of us that have deeply held religious belief's, it's just a part of those belief's.
The problem lies in allowing others the religious and moral freedom to express their feelings. While I don't agree with Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and have fundamental core belief's that don't align with his/her actions or his/her choice of lifestyle. If I want to express that and point to some other thing or person that I think exhibits more courage, and bravery, then those that support the former Olympian should also allow me the same freedom to express my feelings. If they so vehemently disagree with me, then perhaps, our friendship/relationship isn't as authentic as it should be. For true friends can disagree on things and yet still find common ground, love one another, respect one another and, in the words of Ellen De Generes "be kind to one another".
As I would never ask my friends of another faith to disregard the things they belief in an effort as to not offend me, I should be afforded the same in return. However, I'm feeling that if one voices an opinion that much of the world finds fault with or disagrees with, there are labels then attached to that person such as bigot, homophobic, and intolerant. I would never assume to ask Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner to not do what he/she feels is right for himself/herself because I don't agree with it, but lately, at least on social media, it seems that acceptance and embracement is demanded of everyone for everything, regardless of moral or religious belief's.
That's just plain whack. Every person should be entitled to voice their opinions, share their thoughts, proclaim their belief's without vitriol from opposing parties.
Why have things changed? Is it the world in general? Is it the overwhelming presence of social media? Is it a combination?
Let's get real here. A LOT of things could be described as brave and courageous:
A Muslim proclaiming their faith in our country.
A Christian proclaiming their faith in the middle east.
Joining the military during a time of war knowing that you will likely be deployed
Facing a disease that will over time, take your life.
Speaking out against mainstream pop culture if it is in conflict with your morals.
Sharing your testimony of a religious belief knowing that it might create a storm of hate mail/comments.
I could go on and on. There are a lot of things that I believe can be described using the words brave and courageous. And the beauty is? Describing one thing with those adjectives doesn't take away from the the bravery and courage displayed in a different situation! Imagine that! ALL of those things could use the adjectives to different people, in differing life situations and firmly rooted belief's. I'll bet, everyone could use brave and courageous at some time in their life to describe themselves. It doesn't have to be an either/or - but it IS individual. What I deem brave and courageous will not be the same for everyone. And other's view of what is brave and courageous, I will not always agree with.
But what we must do is extend love, kindness and respect. For ALL things and people. For example, just because I don't support gay marriage doesn't mean I'm homophobic and intolerant. And my gay friends and family who don't support my religion - I can't label them heterophbic and intolerant. They have the right to stand up for the things they believe in as much as I have the same right. Lately I'm feeling that the rest of the world would like me to disregard my religious belief's in the name of tolerance for things that I don't morally agree with.
Here's the fact: I'm not going to. Believe it or not, I am perfectly capable of loving my fellowman and not agreeing with or supporting ideas or actions that are in direct conflict with my moral and religious belief's. I really can. And I really do. And I will continue to. At the same time, I won't ever disregard my own morals and deeply rooted religious belief's to appease someones feelings. There are going to be times that I will not be in agreement with many of my friends. I'm okay with that. I hope they can do the same. We don't need to focus on those differences, but rather celebrate our commonalities.
That's what I'd like to do anyway.
PS - you my have noticed I used him/her; Bruce/Caitlyn; when describing the former Olympian whose recent surgery has screamed the headlines. I respect Caitlyn's desire to live her life now as a woman, however, the indisputable fact is she/he is a human being that has two chromosomes. X and Y. XY is at determined at the very moment of conception and then as the zygote and then fetus begins to develop it creates all the hormones and other distinct traits that the Y chromosome brings. So really, no matter what surgery a person wants to have, they cannot remove that Y chromosome. So in all actuality, the human being is indeed still male. The only way to truly become a female would be to remove that Y chromosome and replace it with another X. I don't think science has brought us that far yet. Do I think she is brave for her magazine cover? A little bit. Of course there was going to be backlash, and I think anyone is brave to do something knowing they are going to have that, however, Ms. Jenner is a Hollywood star who is paid millions of dollars for her reality TV show that is set to premiere later this season. It's hard to see past the money to a pure motivation but that is not up to me to decide. If a completely obscure person were to do the same without the fame and fortune, I would deem that person much more brave in my opinion.