What does it mean to be brave? For some people • on both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan • it means fighting for their cause. For others it means questioning the war and finding alternative solutions. This week’s guest Provision makes you think about where you stand and how to make a difference.
Last week I announced the start of a new series of Provisions around the acronym for BRAVE. My hope is to balance the series that I just completed on the acronym for NICE. I want us to end up with an understanding of leadership based on backbone and heart. The combination of BRAVE and NICE does that for me.
As part of this series, and before I get started on what B-R-A-V-E may stand for, I want to share with you a guest Provision written by the Rev. Dr. Arthur “Bud” Ogle of Chicago, Illinois. Bud has lived and worked for 25 years in inner-city America with the problems of homelessness and hopelessness, of poverty and pain. During those 25 years he has also traveled the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, making connections in the cause for justice and peace.
As an ordained minister with a Ph.D. in history who has dedicated his life to living the hard truths in which he believes, Bud shares an important perspective on what it means to be brave and to make a difference at this point in time. If you would like to respond to this article directly, or to subscribe to Bud’s newsletter, you can contact Bud via email by writing email@example.com.
LifeTrek Guest Provision
I’m sure it makes a difference that I have been there, that I have Afghan and Pakistani friends. Our experiences shape our judgments. I love their wildness, their fierce independence. I’m in awe that they take their faith so seriously • that despite the fact that nearly 50% of their homes were destroyed in the Soviet war no one went homeless (contrast this with the burgeoning industry of sheltering America’s homeless • a condition this “Christian” culture accepts); that all the passengers on busses pour out onto the highways to pray at the appointed hours, willing to risk death by strafing and bombing because their priorities are clear • Allah is great and Koranic teaching is to be obeyed. While I disagree strongly with some of their interpretations, the fact that they try and base their lives from their faith, this I admire. And I still cry remembering the bright-eyed limbless children undaunted by war, eager to learn.
I’m sure it makes a difference in helping me recognize the nearly perfect mirror-image role reversals. Osama bin Laden believes George Bush is, at the present moment, the world’s number one terrorist. Al Qaeda believes it is embarked on a protracted war of good vs. evil. Taliban leaders are convinced theirs is a just cause, a holy war. And many Afghan people, a majority of whom did not vote for their current leader, have rallied for weeks patriotically in the face of horrific destruction and the slaughter of innocents. Now, as Afghanistan evolves into yet another new political configuration, I have asked over and over, “what do we celebrate?”
I’m sure it makes a difference if we celebrate victory or revenge. One celebrates the possibility of women being free, terror being diminished, and the possibilities for true justice and healing emerging. The other celebrates a successful military retaliation for crimes committed. But do we celebrate the honest questioning of our premises • is war a necessary evil? Must some be losers for others to be winners? Are there other, perhaps more difficult but lasting, ways to peace? What do we celebrate?
I’m sure it makes a difference that for the majority of the homeless and oppressed people with whom I work in the inner-city of Chicago, September 11th does not change much about how we see the world • innocent people still suffer, leaders pretend to know a lot more than they do, insecurity and terror are ever-present, the poor and discriminated still struggle to survive. From this position, it is hard to believe that people really care.
I’m sure it will make a difference if we try to understand rather than simply eliminate our enemies. For those whose model is World War II, we must first defeat the enemy and then help rebuild the society to prevent the conditions for another Hitler, Mussolini or Tojo. For those whose model is Viet Nam we need to respect why our enemies are so determined. Bin Laden may be as crazed as Hitler. Their 19 “martyrs” may be part of a lunatic fringe to be rejected out of hand. And/or perhaps Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Afghan people, and the Moslem militants, have a perspective we need to see.
I’m sure it makes a difference that Jewish prophets like Martin Buber, I.F. Stone and Joshua Heschel saw today’s problems coming, all the way back in the 1940s. Unless there is a true and just peace, there can be no peace. Palestine is somewhere between Wounded Knee and South Africa. So long as the US gives Israel reason to believe that there can be anything less than a just solution to “the Palestinian problem” that is respected by Arabs, so long as the US believes that being a super-power means it doesn’t have to submit to a world order based upon law and compromise, recruits will flock to “the terrorists.”
What kind of bravery do these times call for? Some, surely, will rush to the flag, the President, and the military without question. As some should surely do. Others will challenge, question, doubt, and suggest alternative ways to address and solve complex problems. As some will surely do. To whom will we listen and to what end?
I’m sure it makes a difference.
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Reader’s Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. These selections do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. They do reflect the diversity of those who read Provisions each week for support and strength on the trek of life. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
For those who may not buy the art of being N-I-C-E, let me offer this. “In my vulnerability lies my strength.” WHAT!!!? Be vulnerable!!!? Yes • it makes your ‘opponent,’ who in the coaching profession might be a reluctant, cold, recalcitrant client, open up to you because you are obviously in the receiving mode. It forces you to be soft, accommodating, but most important, open to the other person, who will in turn open up to you.
Your power may then be expressed with the simple reflection of what you heard. Very often, the coach as sounding board is the most powerful way to get the other person to see themselves as others see them. You cannot tell them what they are • they have to see it for themselves to believe. Once they do, then the barriers to their understanding or their progress, whatever it is you are trying to help them overcome, start to crumble. Thanks for the insights.
This nation, this melting pot of humanity, this free republic, must be preserved. The idea of America is important enough to be defended. Fought for. Even die for. The enemy fears what we have, for if their people ever become liberated into a free society, tyrannical dictatorships will cease and they will lose power.
This much is true: It really is possible to love our country and value our freedoms and still believe the government is full of fools, prevaricators, and BS artists.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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