What do Cindy Blackstock, Martin Luther King Jr., Barb Goode (disability leader), Emily Murphy, Nelly McClung (plus other members of the Famous Five), Cicely Saunders (founder of hospice), Malala Yousafzai, Muhammad Yunus, Ann Livingston (co-founder VANDU), Rachel Carson, Chief Big Bear, and Marian Tompson (co-founder, La Leche League) have in common?
They have all been mocked, attacked, betrayed, ostracized or ignored for acting boldly against an injustice.
Not just from adversaries but also, from allies and acquaintances. They have lost friends too. For the same reason. Or just for being too intense, too serious, always on.
A few of them have been killed or maimed for challenging the status quo. Ask Malala.
Some of them have been rehabilitated – the world finally appreciates that they stepped away from the pack. Some have been lucky to see this happen in their lifetime. More often bold actors remain anonymous. Not that it matters to them.
While physical danger isn’t likely if you tell the truth with laser focus, the consequences can be more than uncomfortable. You can be investigated by government, harassed by corporations or lose your livelihood. Or shunned simply for being a prickly pear. We like our bold people to inspire from another place, another time.
I write this:
- To prepare not dissuade you.
- To help you make peace with what you are experiencing. Sadly injustice often comes to those who fight injustice.
- To remind you about the importance of close friends and loved ones.
- To take special care of your moral and spiritual oxygen.
- To emphasize that you are part of a noble tradition.
And to remind others that this work, that so many of you do, doesn’t come easy. It is the embodiment of courage. And deserves more than a passing nod.
Inside every prickly pear cactus is a fruit that is nutritious, sweet and good for your health. Essential too.
When people think we (Canadians) are polite, that’s just a word for thought process, and there’s a thought process that perhaps we just don’t trust illusion too much. (Gord Downie)