- if someone was denigrating one of your friend or colleague in a public meeting?
- if you came upon a person who was being openly bullied at a party?
- if you had information that would save someone but sharing that information would put your own life at risk?
Would you be brave?
The photo above by Ernest Withers shows one of the most iconic images of bravery in American history. The Rev. Moses Wright, uncle of Emmett Till, stood only 5 feet 3 inches tall. But he was a giant of courage when he pointed his finger at J.W. Milam and then Roy Bryant who had kidnapped Rev. Wright’s nephew in the middle of the night and later murdered him.
As Timothy Tyson writes in The Blood of Emmett Till:
No doubt many though that Wright had pronounced his own death sentence by identifying the two white men who had taken his nephew.
In more recent news, Ian Grillot is being credited with showing uncommon courage by attempting to stop the shooter of two Indian men in a Kansas bar last week. He risked his own life, later saying from his hospital bed, “I was just doing what anyone should have done for another human being.”
I wish I believed that most people would have done what Ian Grillot did. I pray I that I would naturally do what’s right even at personal risk to myself.
In these days when immigrants are being targeted, when refugees are being turned away, when People of Color are presumed to be dangerous, when Muslims are presumed to be terrorists, when transgender people are no longer protected, we have got to be brave. We have got to be prepared to step between the bully and the bullied. We have got to be strong in the face of violence.
My hope is that – in light of his words and actions – President Trump will ultimately make us braver. God uses everything. And I pray that God will use these days of the Trump Administration to inspire us to stand up for what is right.
It’s often dangerous to stand up on behalf of the vulnerable, but today calls for more of us to be like Moses Wright. Rev. Wright died in 1966.