By Jim Koury, Editor/Publisher, Diversity Rules Magazine
© 2013 Diversity Rules Magazine. All Rights Reserved
On this 4th of July, I once again reflect upon “courage.” Courage comes in many forms and means different things to each individual.
America was born with a force of courage that overcame the oppression of the British Empire. The colonialists took up arms against England to fight for what they believed was right and just. Their freedom to think, to worship and speak whatever they wished drove them to sacrifice all that was near and dear to them. They took a chance and fought the war of independence with no holds barred. The American Revolution fostered an experiment in freedom and liberty that still thrives to this day, despite our shortcomings and failures to live up to the inherent promise of America of life, liberty and justice for all.
On a more personal level, I have had my moments of courage, that allowed me to shake free of my shackles of oppression, albeit self-imposed. As a closeted individual, my courage was muted. Deep inside I wanted to declare my independence from my life that was a façade. I so very much wanted to be the person I was meant to be but because of societal pressures, and fear, I remained entombed in a world I did not want to be in and continued to live a lie and was not true to the person I really was. I finally mustered the courage and came out and began to cast off my shackles of oppression that were preventing me from expressing my true individuality. The day I came out was my own personal American Revolution.
A much more recent moment of courage is related to my departure from my job of 20.5 years as the City Clerk of the City of Oneonta. Up until about 2.5 years ago, I was quite content living within the secure world of local government, enjoying the paid holidays, vacation, sick time and other benefits such as health insurance and the periodic travel to conferences. However, there came a moment in time when those feelings I felt when I was getting ready to come out came back. I began to feel restless, unfulfilled and all around unhappy with the situation I was in.
On May 10th, I once again mustered the courage I needed and declared my independence and tendered my resignation. It truly was a liberating feeling and one that I will not forget very soon. I put into action a series of decisions that will shape my destiny for years to come, and will take me in directions I never imagined while living within my secure world in City Hall.
Leaving my job took courage but there have been much more courageous acts undertaken by many people, and by one who still holds a special place in my heart even after her death 41 years ago. I think of my grandmother who came from Italy, with 3 young children to rejoin my grandfather who came to America 2 years prior. She left her homeland knowing full well she would never see her mother or her sisters ever again.
I think of what I have done — leaving my job after 20.5 years. Yes, that did take some courage, but my leaving my job pales in comparison to my brave grandmother and the courage she mustered within her to leave her secure world in Italy, and to seek a better life for her and her family in America. She is ever present in my consciousness, and I will honor her courage by doing what I need to do to be successful in whatever I undertake in the coming months and years.
What have been your moments of courage? What are you facing now that requires you to muster up courage like you never have before to achieve personal greatness? Think about someone in your past that meant a lot to you and put yourself in their shoes and just imagine what they must have been thinking and ultimately experienced because they had a desire for something better. What is it that burns inside of you that will force you to take a leap of faith and find the courage you need to move yourself beyond what is holding you back?
Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back. Don’t second guess yourself and be true to what is important to you. Don’t let life and opportunities go by because of fear and not mustering the courage you needed to achieve something better in your life. Do whatever you need to do to be true to yourself and will make you happy. Make a decision and just do it.