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Courage is a trait many of us are lacking

by Melvin Durai
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I do not know how much courage it takes to do what Navalny did, but if the average human has enough courage to fill a syringe, Navalny had enough to inject every politician in the world.

I admire people who possess great talent in a particular area—talent that I just can’t fathom. Quite often it’s an athlete, someone like Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who set a world record by running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. I once tried running 100 meters as fast as I could and it took me just 9.58 seconds to stop for a water break. It was a very hot day, and it seemed wise to break the race into 25-meter segments. I blame global warming.

Quite often, the person I admire is a singer, someone like Usher, who recently performed during the halftime show at the Super Bowl, entertaining more than 120 million viewers by not only singing and dancing, but also roller skating. Usher is 45 years old and it goes without saying that I admire any middle-aged man who has the God-given talent and ability to find a 20-year-old double and train him so well. (Trust me, if there was a conspiracy at the Super Bowl, this was it.)

Quite often, it’s an actor or actress, someone like Meryl Streep, who has been described as the best actress of her generation. In 2009, she played the role of legendary chef Julia Child in the movie “Julia & Julia” and acted so well that to this day she runs into fans asking her for recipes. 

It’s easy to admire athletes, singers and actors, because they’re usually in the limelight. But it’s going to be several months, if not years, before I can fully admire any of them again. You see, my admiration tank is empty. I used it all up on Alexei Navalny.

Navalny is the Russian opposition leader and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin who was murdered in prison on Feb. 16. Despite being poisoned in 2020, Navalny returned to Russia the following year, knowing he would probably be imprisoned and perhaps killed. This is what he said: “I don’t want to give up either my country or my beliefs. I cannot betray either the first or the second. If your beliefs are worth something, you must be willing to stand up for them. And if necessary, make some sacrifices.”

I do not know how much courage it takes to do what Navalny did, but if the average human has enough courage to fill a syringe, Navalny had enough to inject every politician in the world.

Navalny was born on June 4, 1976, and I hope that on June 4 people everywhere can honor him by observing “World Courage Day.”

On World Courage Day, we would select some of our most courageous citizens, perhaps war veterans or firefighters, and ask them to sit in booths in public places. People would line up to reveal their acts of courage to these “courage mentors.”

Mentor: What courageous act did you perform, young man?

Godfrey, aged 30: I touched a TIGER!!!

Mentor: Very brave of you. Where did this happen?

Godfrey: At the U.S. Open. I touched him and then security took me away.

Mentor: Oh, you mean the golfer. It was courageous to touch him. Stupid too, but we’ll save that for ‘World Stupid Day.’ What about you, young lady?

Archana, 24: I stood up to a tyrant.

Mentor: Vladimir Putin?

Archana: No, my mother-in-law. I told her to stop bossing me around.

Mentor: That takes great courage indeed. Did it work?

Archana: Yes, but now I have to look for a new job. She fired me from the motel she owns.

Mentor: That’s too bad, but finding a job without nepotism also takes courage. What about you, young man?

James, 35: I went to the dentist’s office.

Mentor: Very courageous. Did you have any cavities filled?

James: No, I just went there for a cleaning. And I’m going again next week.

Mentor: So soon?

James: Yes, weekly cleanings are what I’m providing through my janitorial service. But the dentist sometimes works late, so it’s a little risky. What if he jumps out from behind a door and tries to look at my teeth?

Mentor: Very scary. What about you, sir?

Donald, 77: I publicly challenged Vladimir Putin.

Mentor: You challenged Putin?

Donald: Yes, I challenged him to a game of golf at Mar-a-Lago. Not to brag, but I’m a 2.5 handicap. I can’t touch Tiger, but I’m pretty good.

Mentor: It takes courage to touch Tiger. Just ask Godfrey.

Donald: Yes, I know all about courage. I wrote the book on courage. Or maybe I read the book on courage. Yes, that’s it. I remember now: it was a book on courage that someone gave me. And when I opened it, it was filled with stories about me.

Mentor: Please move along, sir. You are holding up the line.

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