A Nobel Prize for Courage
Updated: Oct 18
Today, the world needs courage at a time when it seems to be in short supply.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two journalists – Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia – in recognition of “their courageous fight for freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Ressa has been a tireless crusader for truth, exposing government corruption and the violence of her country's anti-drug campaign, led by President Rodrigo Duterte. Muratov has worked as a free speech defender for decades as one of the founders and editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta since 1995. He has done so despite constant threats to his own life and the killings of six of his newspaper’s journalists.
It is noteworthy that the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized the foundational nature of courage as a precondition to peace. This is what the Greeks wrote about over two thousand years ago. Courage, they argued, is the one great virtue upon which all other virtues depend and rest. There is no peace, love, or wisdom without individuals who are courageous enough to risk their own lives for what is right, just, and true. Throughout history, it has been individuals like Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat and now these incredibly brave journalists who have served as role models for us all.
Governments across the world are increasingly turning towards authoritarianism. Academic institutions have, in many cases, simply lost their minds. Look at what happened last week with MIT's decision to cancel a lecture by geophysicist Dorian Abbot, causing outrage from many of its most reasonable alumni and those concerned about the freedom of speech and ideas. And business leaders seem paralyzed, too often allowing reason and reasonableness to succumb to the extreme demands of a misguided, even if well-intentioned, minority.
Last week I was invited to contribute to an event for five congresswomen, each of whom has served in the military and/or intelligence community and is seeking reelection in competitive districts. I am nonpartisan, and I generally decline these kinds of invitations. But I also noticed there was some part of me concerned that a contribution would become part of the public record. What is the world coming to? And what has happened to me that I would be swayed by such a concern? I ended up making a modest contribution, thankful for the reminder of the acts of courage and service of these women and many others like them.
Thank you, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov, for your fight for the truth. For your willingness to put your lives on the line. For your courage. Your example serves yet again as a wake-up call for me to remember these acts of courage the next time I'm afraid, unwilling to take risk, speak my truth, or, most importantly, lead with love. I hope their well-deserved recognition serves as a wake-up call for you too.
I’m not all the way through this three-part series, but I found the concept of a “third space” – an informal public gathering places of refuge, where people can eat, drink, relax, and commune in order to develop a sense of belonging that is not home or work – really valuable and interesting.
David Brooks nicely captures the benefits and dangers of mental concepts in his recent opinion piece.
I recently came across The Warrior, Poem by Hafiz. Here’s an excerpt:
Wisely sits in a circle
With other men
Gathering the strength to unmask