What if courage was the real ‘it ‘factor in our lives? That has certainly been true in my own life, where clearly my worst mistakes were due to my lack of courage.
But today is not about me and I am getting ahead of myself.
Le 8 Mai (May 8th) is a major day in the French culture. today we honor the courage of millions. Notably, it takes quite a mensch to run towards danger and possible death in order to stand for what is right, when every instinct wants us to run in the opposite direction.
Yet this is precisely what millions of our fellow human beings did back in the 1940s.
Who can forget the Brits, who with their characteristic stoicism resisted their nightly bombings?
Who can forget D-Day and the young American men running towards enemy fire on the beaches of Normandy?
Who can forget Stalingrad?
And of course, who can forget the unknown heroes of the French resistance?
if you ever need to be reminded of the depth of human evil and of our greatness I invite you to watch Simone Signoret , in a life-changing movie called “Army of Shadows”.
Today I remember with great pride that both my grandfather and father chose to risk their lives by enlisting. Being physicians they had special dispensation but they felt that enlisting was the right thing to do. They volunteered to the war effort the best they had to offer, their skills as surgeons. They ran ambulances behind the front lines to collect the injured soldiers and take care of them.
Additionally, my grandfather hid several Jewish families in his private clinic for months and months. He loved telling me how with his three words of German ‘Ich bin artz’ (I am a doctor) and with an innocent, charming smile he got Jewish folks thru road blocks, time and time again.
Courageous, heroic even? Perhaps but I am not sure that my grandfather fully realized how he endangered his own family had he been caught in the act. Besides, knowing what I know about him now, I believe that he would have done it anyway simply because it was the right thing to do. What was being done to the Jewish people was not to be tolerated passively regardless of the personal cost.
Courage is an interesting topic; as JP Sartre famously wrote: “One is not born a hero or a coward, one becomes so through one’s daily choices and actions “
Closer to us Brene Brown observes encouragingly: “Authenticity is not a given, not a permanent state, it is a daily practice. “Similarly I believe that courageousness is something to be remembered and practiced daily.
Just like with any other life activity to be successful it is essential to have a support team. Even geese know the power of team work. Watch them fly in formations because they fly faster than when they fly solo. Let’s learn from them
Clearly the members of the French resistance, the Ghetto of Stalingrad and the GI’s of D-Day lived these truths. Today we celebrate them all, these extraordinary and humble people who put their lives on the line to resist undeniable evil, because it was the right thing to do.
They listened to the small voice in their hearts and acted on it.
We salute them from the depth of our own hearts now and always,
Warmly et à bientôt,
Véronique & her staff,