I’m currently reading Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave by Ryan Holiday in the mornings. This morning, a passage struck me so hard that I thought I would share it.
And I think this passage struck me because of the times we’re in right now. I’ve often wondered over the last… I don’t know… four to six years… what will the history books say about the people of the times we’re in right now. What will they say about us? What will they say about me? What will they say about you? What will they call this era?
A friend texted me yesterday asking me to consider someone—a friend of hers—when I’m casting my votes for our local school board next week. I gave her a thumbs up, and when I had time later in the evening, I looked up this person running. Because it’s a small local election, most of what I found came in the form of a Facebook page dedicated to her campaign. So I looked at this page, then I looked at her personal profile, who our mutual friends are, and who’s supporting her. And I was able to get a decent picture of what she stands for in order to make a decision.
I don’t cast votes for people I’ve never heard of, and I certainly don’t cast votes for people who won’t represent me well. Read that last part again: I will not vote for someone who won’t represent me well.
It is the people we put in public office that represent us. From school boards to state offices and all the way to Washington, the people we vote for are the people who represent who we are as a nation. Your vote represents who you are as a person. And who you are as a person will be documented in history one day.
So, when I was doing my morning reading, I came across this passage from Courage is Calling:
If you had lived during slavery, during imperialism, if you had watched the rise of antisemitism in Europe, if you had been born in Soviet Russia or in Mao’s China, what would you have done? Would you have been able to go against the tides of your times? Would you have been brave enough to think independently? Would you have been able to resist all the incentives and cultural norms of the moment to manumit your slaves or accept your gay son or support women’s rights?
Fear is the swing vote in these answers.
No one can truly understand what it would be like to occupy a different time and place, with different assumptions, assumptions shared by everyone you’ve ever met and everything you’ve ever read. But it’s also pretty clear: What would you have done back then? As Khrushchev said, you’d be doing the same thing you’re doing today.
Don’t bother with “What would I do in their shoes?” Ask: “What am I doing now?”
In your own life. With your own fears.
The choices we’re making right now is becoming a part of our history.