profiles in courage

by John F Kennedy.

I have for the last 7 years since I wrote this post been meaning to read this book to see if I was wrong in my conclusions then. I am persuaded I was right then in my conclusions as I still am now that whilst men and women have committed great acts of courage, these were only possible if they stood to benefit. Don’t be hasty to think of benefit only in terms of public recognition- no- the greatest beneficiary of our actions is the self, that one master you cannot go against. In times of great turmoil or crisis, it is that master that must be served.

Many might not have read this book by JFK, but I recommend it highly. Not because of the profiles, which are great by the way, but on its lessons on government. And why, for democracy to continue to work, we must all participate in politics. It is also the eye opener in why many or most of us are frustrated by the decisions the politicians make. We have elected them to be our representatives and expect that their votes will represent our will. JFK reminds us that we have also entrusted them to act impartially, with integrity in the hope that they will be led at al times by public good, however you define it.

As I wrote many moons ago asking what happened to the US of A of men such as Robert G Ingersoll, Lewis and others, I can add to the list such men us E Ross, Calhoun, Houston, Taft, Adams and others- who, my friends living in the Uneducated States of A know much more than I can ever know. It appears, to us, who watch from afar, that party obedience trumps everything else and that we see very few men and women who dare challenge the party. But then, yours truly, is not a politician.

In my neck of woods, such profile maybe hard to build in our present climate. However, there have been men and women who have defied the government of the day and suffered dearly or lost limb and life in defense of their principles- but they have been few and far between-. We remember Waangari Maathai (Prof) for her fight to save our forests for which she paid a personal price. Or those few men of courage who stood firmly with Oginga Odinga when in 1966 he formed Kenya People’s Union- the first Azimio Party- after resigning his office as Vice President. Of note is Bildad Kaggia who for this defiance was detained by then president in HomaBay (I think) for several months. Since then, we have only been electing scoundrels to the no longer August House. We have elected representatives who will sacrifice everything to remain in office. But maybe I am wrong and I expect too much of politicians.

So, again, as I did then, 7 years ago, I ask again today- is selflessness possible?