Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, Bravery and Injustice

Rosa Parks’ death reminded me last night of how one person’s small but brave act can sometimes have consequences far beyond what one can imagine. The thing is, the actual thing she did – sitting – is not a big deal. It’s the context that makes it remarkable. I also think of the brave young man who stood up to the tank in Tiananmen Square for example – his brave act also had a ripple effect. He just didn’t move and, because of his bravery, moved many many people. Small things done to combat injustice can turn out to be big things. Sometimes we might think we have no power because the problems are too large for us to deal with. I'm not suggesting that the unknown student in Tiananmen Square changed everything in China. I'm not suggesting that there is no longer racial inequality in the U.S. because of Rosa Parks. But I am suggesting that their small acts of bravery were an important and necessary first step toward righting a great wrong.

I wonder which everyday injustices I am not standing up to. I wonder what things I should be stubborn about. I wonder what consequences my small actions can have.

3 comments:

Bar Bar A said...

Rosa P. was a great lady and an example to us all. I am going to ask myself the question at the end of your post...

MattyA said...

Good question, Mr. Keeley. Let me answer with one of my own: if I really look at all 50 or 100 of the everyday injustices I perpetuate by simply reinforcing "the system" won't I go crazy? How do we pick our battles? Should I buy free trade coffee to support the coffee-growers, organic coffee to support the environment, or regular coffee because it's the only thing available at the small locally-owned business? Which small act of bravery should I choose? I wish I was blissfully ignorant! (not really)

Bob K said...

Thanks, Matt. I'll respond in a way that you can relate to - Sports Night. (Do they have Sports Night in Hungary?) Remember the episode where Dan is trying to decide where to give his money? The response (I think it was Natalie) was, you're not going to solve all the problems, you just have to get in the game. So you pick one, I'll pick one and we'll see what happens. But remember, you can't give yourself a nickname.