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10 Revolutionary Acts Of Courage By Ordinary People

Posted By robyn-johnson On September 15, 2008 @ 6:00 am In Travel Stories | 27 Comments Here are 10 people who stood up for peace and human rights. And inspired countless others to do the same. When looking back through the mystique of history, we tend to impose super-human status to those who stood up for their beliefs in a revolutionary way. For some of them, the decision to act was conscious defiance to the status quo. For others, they were simply in the right place at the wrong time, and found themselves acting on behalf of others lacking the courage to speak out. We should rightly remember these people. But we should also remember that they were (or are) ordinary human beings, who made a choice. And just like them, the rest of us have the opportunity to choose to engage in creating a better world. In short, we can be revolutionary every day.
1. Lt. Ehren Watada Refusing The War

Lt. Ehren Watada The first commissioned officer of the U.S. armed forces to [1] refuse deployment to Iraq, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada created a furor with his objection and public denunciation of the war in January 2006. Watada entered into the army fully believing the official justifications for the invasion. However, after researching the history of Iraq and the events leading to the American invasion, he concluded that the war was based on false evidence presented to Congress-specifically the existence of the elusive weapons of mass destruction. Watada therefore believed his own involvement would be constituted as crimes against peace under command responsibility. He asked to be

deployed to Afghanistan, where he felt there was a true moral imperative to defend the United States, but when the army refused his request or his resignation, Watada did not board the plane with his unit. Military authorities subjected Watada to a court martial in February 2007 and the judge declared a mistrial after deciding Watadas defense of not following unlawful orders could not be decided in a military court. When a new court martial date was set, Watadas attorney claimed double jeopardy-his client could not be tried again under the same charges. Today Watada works at Fort Lewis with the continuous threat of a 6-8 year prison term looming over him for the crime of speaking truth to power.
2. The Unknown Rebel at the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests

The Unknown Rebel Little can be verified about the lone protester who faced-off with the tanks of the Peoples Liberation Army on June 5, 1989. As the column of tanks drove down Changan Avenue to quell the Tiananmen Square protests, a single unarmed man in a white shirt blocked their path and continually thwarted their attempts to maneuver around him by stepping in their way. Eventually onlookers pulled the student back into the crowd, where he disappeared. Yet despite his anonymous, brief appearance, the media coverage of his nonviolent act resounded throughout the global community. Stuart Franklins famous photo of the stand-off went on to become one of Lifes 100 Photos that Changed the World and TIME listed the Unknown Rebel as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Rumors still abound about the protesters identity and whereabouts. Most believe he was executed shortly after the rebellion and others claim that he lives in hiding in mainland China or Taiwan.
3. Gandhis Salt March to Dandi

Gandhi with his supporters / Photo [2] GandhiMemorial Mahatma Gandhis Salt March to Dandi in 1930 alerted the world to the burgeoning Indian independence movement. Gandhis defiant act was the first campaign against British imperialism since the National Congress declaration of independence earlier that same year. A pioneer in mass non-violent protest ever since his expatriation in South Africa as a young man, Gandhi chose to defy the British salt laws by organizing a 248 mile trek to a coastal town to illegally make salt from the sea. By the time he and his thousands of followers reached the sea, word had spread across the country and millions of impoverished and malcontented Indians took up the civil disobedience by disregarding the salt laws. While Gandhis march did not directly bring about national independence, it was vital in turning world opinion against British policies in India. For his life-long struggle for freedom, Gandhi is immortalized as the nations founding father and remains one of the worlds most beloved figures.
4. Rosa Parks Sit Down for Civil Rights

Rosa Parks refusing to sit at the back Popularly remembered as the woman who quietly refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a segregated bus, thereby launching the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks was already steeped in black politics long before her iconic arrest. A secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP since 1943, she was well aware of the groups attempts to challenge the Jim Crow laws on public transportation and supported their plans to instigate a bus boycott. Rosa Parks reputes the common myth that her unwillingness to get up was due to aching feet. No she said, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

Although instrumental to the Civil Rights movement, Parks went on to live in anonymity after the protests, working as a seamstress for almost a decade and not receiving national recognition until later in life.
5. Aung San Suu Kyi and Freedom From Fear

Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi came from a prominent political background-her father helped liberate Burma from British colonial control after WWII and her mother was the fledgling nations ambassador to India. Spending most of her younger adult years studying and raising a family abroad, Aung San Suu Kyi always felt that the time might come for her to take up her familys legacy and fight against the oppressive military dictatorship that had overthrown the civilian government initiated by her father. That moment came when Aung San Suu Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to care for her ailing mother. Her visit coincided massive public demonstrations against the junta, and she joined the fray. Emerging as the most compelling leader of the popular revolt, Aung San Suu Kyi helped found an opposition political party, the National League of Democracy. In 1990 she was voted in as Prime Minister in the first multi-party elections a triumph that was nullified by the military government, which had already placed her under house arrest. When the junta offered her release in exchange for permanent exile, Aung San Suu Kyi refused. Instead, the courageous and principled leader continues to live under house arrest, despite the constant peril to her life and the decades-long separation from her family. Aung San Suu Kyis tenacious dedication to see a better Burma has led to countless international awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Read her essay [3] Freedom From Fear.
6. John Lennon and Yoko Onos Bed-In for Peace

John Lennon and Yoko Ono on their bed While most celebrities use the publicity surrounding their weddings as a way to further their careers, John Lennon and Yoko Ono actually

took advantage of the medias voyeurism to stage a protest for peace during their honeymoon. Of course, being the bastions of the 60s avant-garde, their altruism necessarily took the unexpected and quirky form of a bed-in. Between March 25-31, 1969, Lennon and Yoko invited the press, expecting to document a more scandalous spectacle, into their hotel room in the Amsterdam Hilton while they sat in bed and spoke of peace. After the success of this inspired stunt, they went to Montreals Queen Elizabeth Hotel for another seven-day protest from May 26-June 1. It was here that they first recorded the anti-war anthem Give Peace a Chance among luminaries such as Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. Scoffed at by the major media, Lennon and Onos demonstration inspired many others throughout the decades to perform bed-ins in passive protest of war. Give Peace a Chance remains the emblematic anti-war song of the 1960s.
7. Martin Luther King, Jr.s I Have A Dream Speech

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd. One of the finest orators and civil rights leaders of the 20th century, Martin Luther King, Jr. did much to change the United States policy on racial discrimination. After helping to launch the Civil Rights Movement by heading the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a black religious organization that directed nonviolent protests against segregationist authorities throughout the 1960s. The zenith of Dr. Kings career came on August 28, 1963 with his I Have A Dream speech, given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. [4] Watch the full speech here. On the symbolic steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King spoke to 200,000300,000 dissidents and millions of television viewers, rallying for a world free of prejudice in which people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Dr. Kings historic speech was a major deciding factor in the passage of the National Voting Act and Civil Rights Act. For his part in advocating racial harmony and equality through nonviolent means, King became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Although an assassin lamentably cut his momentous career short in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words continue to inspire the oppressed everywhere.
8. Ahmad Batebi, Irans Happenstance Hero

Ahmad Batebi with the bloody shirt. The subject of a provocative cover of The Economist that created a global backlash against Iranian human rights abuses, Ahmad Batebis accidental role in the Iran student protests of 1999 irrevocably altered the course of his life. The famous photo shows Batebi waving a bloody shirt-that of a fellow protester shot by plainclothes police-an act many interpreted as a rallying cry of rebellion against the governments autocratic policies. However, according to a recent interview in the New York Times, Batebi had wandered into the crowd of dissidents, and after using the shirt to staunch the bullet wound of a fallen student, waved the bloodied garment to dissuade others from joining the rabble. Regardless of his intent, the published photo sealed Batebis conviction as an agitator. The international recognition of advocacy groups did nothing to mitigate the eight years of unimaginable physical and psychological torture he suffered at the hands of prison guards. However, global attention to his case did save Batebi from the fate that his more unfortunate comrades suffered an anonymous and brutal death. In 2008, Batebi finally escaped from prison with the help of underground Kurdish revolutionaries and now lives in the United States, where he works for nonviolent political reform in his homeland.
9. Nelson Mandelas Dedication To Justice

Nelson Mandela just after his release

An anti-apartheid activist and leader of the African National Congress in his early political career, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for political agitation against the South African government. Yet his struggles only galvanized the cause for racial equality, and he endured to become the nations first black president, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and an international symbol of freedom. At first committed to passive resistance, Mandela played a major role in the ANCs many demonstrations and conferences of the 1950s. However, after the Treason Trial of 1956-1961, when 156 dissidents, including Mandela, were arrested, tried, and eventually acquitted, for a communist conspiracy to overthrow the government, the rebellion took a more violent turn. Mandela became head of the ANCs militia, the Umkhonto we Sizwe. After committing sabotage against several military and government installations, Mandela was arrested and this time found guilty. He spent nearly three decades in prison before mounting international pressure forced his release in 1990, when he made a speech addressed directly to the nation. [5] Watch the video of his release. Despite the years of hard labor and harsh conditions he had suffered, Mandela publicly took up the cause of armed struggle again if political negotiations to end apartheid were not initiated. Because of his courage, commitment and leadership, the country went on to hold its first multi-racial elections in 1994 and dismantle racial segregation.
10. Thich Quang Ducs Self-Immolation

Thich Quang Duc burns on the street. The unprecedented media coverage of the Vietnam War brought the brutal realities of human conflict into the worlds living room for the first time, but few images failed to shock more than Thich Quang Ducs suicide-protest. A devout Mahayana Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc spent most of his life in service and teaching, heading monasteries and rebuilding nearly 30 temples. Because of his esteemed position within the

community, he was chosen to carry out the infamous mission of martyrdom on behalf of persecuted Vietnamese Buddhists. On June 11, 1963, the 76-year-old monk, seated in a full lotus position in the middle of a central Saigon intersection, publicly denounced the South Vietnamese governments oppressive policies and called for religious equality. Then, to the horrified onlookers, Thich Quang Ducs fellow monks poured gasoline over his body and he calmly set himself aflame. While many people still disagree about the tenor of Thich Quang Ducs suicide, his deed was a decisive turning point in the Buddhist crisis in South Vietnam, which ultimately ushered in a regime change. For his selfless act Thich Quang Duc was deemed a bodhisattva, an enlightened being who delays nirvana to help those in need, and his intact heart became a holy relic. What do you think of this revolutionary courage? Share your thoughts in the comments! Article printed from Brave New Traveler: http://matadornetwork.com/bnt URL to article: http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/2008/09/15/10revolutionary-acts-of-courage-by-ordinary-people/ URLs in this post: [1] refuse deployment to Iraq: http://www.thankyoult.org/ [2] GandhiMemorial: http://www.gandhimemorial.org/gallery.htm [3] Freedom From Fear: http://uscampaignforburma.org/assk/sakharovessay.html [4] Watch the full speech here.: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=PbUtL_0vAJk [5] Watch the video of his release.: http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/international_politics/clips/41 25/ Click here to print.

Sermon -- Epiphany 4 (Ordinary 4) Year B - | DB Home | RCL Resources Index |

He taught with authority

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching--with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." -Mark 1:27 If you believe the gospel you are inclined to accept the authority of Jesus as a teacher. Sometimes we might rebel against it; and more often we try to rationalize it to suit ourselves; but for Christians our basic belief is that we should be guided by what he said as well as we can understand it from scripture. Indeed we go a little further and say that when we struggle in the fellowship of believers to understand the scriptures we put Christ at the centre of our beliefs and interpret all the rest in the light of our knowledge of him. For believers, he is the supreme authority on our relationship with God and how we should live in that relationship. We accept his authority because we believe that he came from God, and more than that, he not only came from God, he is God. For us believers, acceptance of the authority of Jesus follows from our acceptance of him as Lord, the Messiah, the holy one of God, the Word who was with God at the beginning, who was made flesh, who died a sacrificial death and whom God raised up and gave authority over everything in heaven and on earth. [Romans 9:10; Mark 8:29; Mark 1:24; John 1:1,14; Romans 5:8; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; Matthew 28:18.] People of faith believe him, or at least know that we should, because of who we believe he was and is; but what about people who do not believe in him, or who wonder about his true nature, or even for ourselves when our faith weakens: what then can be made of his teaching with authority? When he is heard as one who teaches with authority, as one who knows what he is talking about, and he expects people to accept it and to obey his commands, what are people to make of it; how are they to judge how well founded that authority is? You might then say, 'Who is he?', or even, 'Who does he think he is?' When we ask that sort of question, we are in much the same position as those who first heard him teach in the synagogue at Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee so long ago. There was no doubt in their experience that he was no ordinary teacher. They were amazed at how different his teaching was:

(Mark 1:22) They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Then they saw the strange encounter with the evil spirit. The point of the story is not anything about whether we should believe that such demons exist as the people of his day understood the world; but about the way that Jesus dealt with a power of evil. The existence of evil as a spirit which possessed, or influenced a person from within, was simply assumed. What excited the people who saw it was his authority in that confrontation. The way he dealt with evil, was the same as his teaching: They were all

amazed, and they kept on asking one another, "What is this? A new teaching--with authority! Our modern hang-up with authority What a bag of trouble we have with the idea of authority! It is easy to go to extremes. Some people hate the very idea that anyone or any power could ever tell them what to do. It is typical of young people especially that they test authority and try to establish their ability to live independently, taking control of their own lives, deciding as much as possible for themselves. In most things we accept that striving as part of growing up. I fear, however, that in our society it is an attitude that lingers far too long. Besides that independence in which we are our own authority on much that we do, we need to acknowledge that we are interdependent -- we depend upon each for most things that are important to us, and we depend upon God. It is one of the sad things about church life today that people tend to divide into those who prefer a liberal way of living a Christian life, making allowances for modern ways of thinking, and others who want the gospel proclaimed with authority and without compromise. They are both right in their different ways, but the liberals are wrong when they compromise the gospel to make it acceptable, and the conservatives are wrong too when they use simple theories and threats of punishment to force their limited understandings on everyone else. When either of them talks of the authority of the Bible, they mean their own limited interpretation of it. Any preacher who is prepared to teach with that kind of uncompromising authority will have quite a good following in these uncertain times, either by telling people what they want to hear or by daring to challenge accepted ways. So called conservatives who teach dogmatically have quite a strong appeal in the face of modern unfaithfulness when they clearly put God first, for that is right, and much that is wrong in our world comes from not putting God first, failing to accept his authority, and putting ourselves in his place. Giving God his due, however, does not excuse anyone behaving in an authoritarian way: as in 'Its right because I say its right, and people who disagree with me have no part with me!' Attitudes of that kind tend to belittle the value of other persons, to divide the world into 'us' and 'them', and foster fear and hatred. Equally, and perhaps even more damaging, is that excess of so called liberalism in which anything goes as long it feels right to the individual. Most people in our society do not need to be reminded of the value of liberty or the dangers of authoritarianism that can lead to the excesses of communism or Nazism, to the gulag and the gas chamber. We in the West are all liberals in that sense. But it is not out of place to point out that there is a form of liberal opinion, which for a few years was commonly called 'political correctness', that can itself become a tyranny and a cover for self-serving libertarian orthodoxy. There are sophisticated versions of this ideology in which reaction against authority is taken to the extent of denying all ideas of objective truth or of what is right or wrong, that is of denying every claim apart from what we each of us feel is right for ourselves. Though it is sometimes presented as 'postmodern', and people who don't go along with it are dismissed with contempt by the sophisticates as

being behind the times, it is not a very new idea It was Shakespeare who had Hamlet say 'there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.' His remark was make in a mood of cynicism about life, humanity and the world in general that is common enough attitude today [Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.] Cynicism about there being any kind of objective truth and goodness leads to a new kind of arbitrary authoritarianism -ultimately a nihilistic attitude to one's own life and the lives of others. The biblical view Let me that leave present day struggle aside for now and come back to the way authority is dealt with in the New Testament. For the people who expressed surprise at the way Jesus taught 'with authority', to wonder about his authority was to raise question of who Jesus was. The point of Mark's telling the story is to say, 'He is the Messiah!' At this stage of the gospel, in this story, only the demon is able to recognize him, for the power of evil knows its adversary, it knows that the time of its defeat and destruction has come. It will no longer have power over people when the power of God in this man is on the side of the people. The question of how Jesus could have such authority comes back to who he is, after raising the question without saying what he is doing, Mark goes on to pile on one example after another of how Jesus exercised his authority. There are many examples of healing, because this is one of the ways of demonstrating his use of the power of the coming kingdom of God for the welfare of people who were suffering or oppressed. Then the next time the word 'authority' is used by Mark is when Jesus dares to forgive sins:

(Mark 2:9-11) Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and take your mat and walk'? {10} But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he said to the paralytic-- {11} "I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home."

This would have reminded some of his hearers of what the later prophetic writings in Daniel had to say about the authority of the Son of Man:

(Daniel 7:13-14) As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being [a son of man] coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. {14} To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

So you begin to get the picture that the authority of Jesus, is not just about the way he taught in the synagogue or in the Sermon on the Mount, though there too they noticed that he taught with authority (Matthew 7:29). His authority is being shown in a more dramatic way. It is the kind of authority with which a good batsman strikes the ball and sends it to the boundary -- with precision and good effect. Jesus was engaged in a conflict with the powers of evil, the enemies of humankind, and he was banishing them. This a great cosmic battle, clearly demonstrating what he said:

...if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. (Matthew 12:28)

That was another way of declaring the good news. The people were being set free from their enemies, the powers of evil. They need no longer be afraid. They could begin to enjoy the glorious liberty of being children of God, which was the purpose of his coming. Authority and liberty It is an interesting thing that the same word [Greek 'exousia'] which is translated 'authority' in Mark 1:22 and 27 also occurs in the epistle for today, where it is translated 'liberty'? -

But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. [1 Cor 8:9]

How can authority be the same as liberty? It is when you have the power to order your life within yourself. Now that is a very modern and appealing idea. All sorts of gurus will tell you that you have the power in yourself to decide, to do, what is good and right for you to achieve your potential. So it is important to see how this comes about in our understanding of Christ and his work. Along side indwelling power I would put the fact that in the Bible the meaning of authority ['exousia'] is not limited to that internal personal kind of authority that does not rely upon any external source. Its usage in the New Testament includes also examples which are clearly hierarchical.

For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me .... (Matt 8:9). .... to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. (Luke 20:20). Let every person be subject to the governing authorities .... (Rom 13:1)

The great commission to go out with the message and make disciples of all nations, through which we share in the authority of Jesus, begins with Jesus having had authority given to him:

"All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me" (Matt 28:18).

And it was a gift to celebrate, to wonder at:

When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (Matt 9:8) [ie authority to forgive sins, which he also gave to us.]

The early creeds such as we have in scripture in Philippians 2:6-11, and the whole language and worship of the early church were full of praise for the way that Jesus, even

though he had emptied himself of his heavenly power, exercised the power that had been given to him. It was shown in his authority to overcome evil, to win a victory over sin and death, for all our sakes:

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. (Col 2:15). etc.

What we and the observers at Capernaum are witnessing is a cosmic drama in which we are blessed with liberty to share in the power which his victory over evil has won for us. But you say, can't we give a modern psychological explanation of healing miracles and the casting out of evil spirits. That is a serious and honest question for many people which needs to be studied in depth, both psychologically and theologically. Let me now just give a short answer. Psychological explanations no more remove the power of God from acts of redemption than does a good scientific account remove the power of God from creation. Such explanations are not competing alternatives to faith, nor are they merely the same thing in a different language. However it is done, it is the power of God at work and it is the privilege of scientists to discover a little of how it was done. What comes out clearly from the scriptures is that a battle was being fought with evil, however you understand evil. It was seen as a power, or many powers, of a spiritual nature, apart from human beings, and in conflict with God:

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places . (Ephes 3:10).

So when Christians give thanks for liberty, we are not so much thinking of human self sufficiency and the authority of our own experience, but of the liberty we have in Christ, which we believe depends upon that external source of power Jesus had from God, the power which he exercised in decisively changing the objective balance of powers in our favour. So however we can express it, it is proper to acknowledge the source of our liberty as outside ourselves:

... to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.' (Jude 1:25)

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