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Firsts Happen When There’s Courage of Conviction

by Sheron Long on May 2, 2013

Sky showing behind zipper, illustrating firsts that can occur when you show courage of conviction

Reveal the courage of conviction, and push the limits to the sky.
© Hemera

Jason Collins and Wilcox County Teens Push the Limits

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.  —Anaïs Nin

Two recent events, startling by both their similarity and difference, make for this week’s “Oh, I See” Moment in the news. Both events show the courage of conviction, the stuff that firsts are made of.

NBA’s Jason Collins Speaks Up

Jason Collins became the first male athlete on a major professional sports team to share publicly that he is gay.  The acknowledgment was a life-changer even for this game-changing basketball player.

Road signs, illustrating firsts that can occur when you show courage of conviction

Jason Collins is moving forward.
© iStockphoto

As he told Sports Illustrated about his decision to come out, ” I felt whole for the first time.”

Four Teens Take Action

At prom time this April in Wilcox County, Georgia, four teens relied on their courage as well. The high school there does not put on a prom. Instead, even after schools were desegregated over 40 years ago, white proms and black proms hosted by parents have been the tradition.

This year, however, Quanesha Wallace, Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, and Keela Bloodworth decided to break through that tradition and put on the first integrated prom, themed “Masquerade Ball in Paris.”

It took courage and great effort by these teens, two who are white and two who are black. Why did they do it? The long-time friends, who attend classes and football games together and who sleep over at each other’s homes, also wanted to build joyful memories of their senior prom together.

In other words, like Jason Collins, they wanted to feel whole. And, because of their courage, life expanded for Jason and these teens.

2013 scratched in sand, showing a modern year when firsts are still happening

A modern year, yet the tide of change is still incomplete.
© iStockphoto

Tides of Change

The fact that these two events happened in 2013 in the United States of America, however, is where the differences come in.

How is it that Jason Collins, a black athlete, felt fear and limitations not because of his race but because of his sexuality, while in the same month four teens were fighting against segregation, which was outlawed in the schools in 1954?

Oh, I see. The tide of change moves slowly. Sixty years from now, there will be people pushing past new frontiers of acceptance while (hopefully many fewer) members of the gay community still feel fearful of acknowledging their identity or even encounter unfair treatment.

But change that lifts the limits on individuals’ happiness and self-respect will come. The way to speed it up is for more people to show courage of conviction, speaking out and taking action to pave the road for the people who follow them. While it is sometimes the hardest thing to do, surely the most important is to

Typography spelling the word "Start," to prompt people to follow the courage of their conviction

It takes courage to start.
© iStockphoto

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