Dear Meryl Streep, Preaching to the choir is not ‘Courageous’
Silly me, I always thought the definition of courage, in the context of spoken words at least, was to speak your mind knowing that there would be serious, adverse (usually financial or physical danger) consequences to your speech and still going ahead with it. This, usually before an audience that does not agree with the harsh truth that you are about to speak.
I thought courage was, Ben Shapiro refusing to cower down before the UCLA bullies and continuing his speech with a lynch mob waiting for him outside, refusing to stop even when the mob literally yelled "fire!" in a crowded theatre by pulling fire alarm. Watch the clip here.
I thought courage was shown by Vivek Agnihotri taking his film "Buddha in a Traffic Jam" to hostile audience after hostile audience in universities ruled by rabid leftists who pulled out all stops to deter him. Going ahead with the screening at Jadavpur University after the mob nearly pulled his hand off its socket, I thought that was courage.
Or, lest you think I am citing examples from one side of the ideological discourse- I thought courage was Bill Maher walking on Jimmy Kimmel’s show a day after Charlie Hebdo massacre and making Jimmy call it an act of Islamic extremism. Watch his intervention here. Taking on the liberals who are stop short of calling terror by its name and in process, getting in the face of extremists who murdered your peers a day ago - that takes courage.
Or, I thought courage is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s lone crusade against religious extremism, after watching her colleague getting shot and stabbed in broad daylight, after suffering endless persecution at the hands of the extremists, her calling it “a nihilistic cult of death." Boy- that would take courage.
Or, to give an example where stakes were not of life and death but still pretty high- Scottish athlete Eric Liddel refusing to take part in an Olympic event he had trained for, because competing on a Sunday conflicted with his religious beliefs. Putting your religious convictions ahead of personal glory in the face of mounting pressure from his own team- I say ole' Eric was courageous.
But now it turns out that if you stand in a room full of rich, powerful people with exactly the same political leanings as yours, and if you speak your collective mind, knowing fully well that your words can cause no harm either to your persona or to your job prospects- you are considered to exhibit courage.
Margaret Thatcher (Remember her Ms. Streep?) once said being powerful is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.
Why do I get the feeling that Ms. Thatcher would have been happy replacing the word courageous with powerful in the sentence above?
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