Courage: Part 1

As we reflect and remember here in the United States on Memorial Day, I think it is an interesting time to think about what it means to sacrifice and do the right thing.  For some, this idea is summed up by words like “valor” or “honor.”  I prefer to use the word courage.

Why, you may ask, am I writing about courage in the EDC blog?

The answer is that courage is demonstrated by many individuals, not the least of whom are those who choose a path that may not be the one that is easy or likely to be rewarded.  This belief that doing what is right is more important than doing what is rewarded is exemplified by the first director of the Mortenson Center, Bernard Amadei.

Bernard Amadei at work, 2010
Bernard Amadei (center right) 2010

Many people know of Bernard through his work with Engineers Without Borders or even through his appointment as a Science Envoy for the United States.  Bernard is recognized internationally as a change agent – an individual who is making a difference.  Here at the Mortenson Center, both students and faculty owe a great deal to the visionary leadership that Bernard brought to the University of Colorado.  However, most people do not realize the courage required of Bernard in order to make all of this possible.

Bernard demonstrated the kind of courage that I have described – the courage to say that what is right is more important than what is rewarded.  Bernard understood that his activities were not going to be valued by his peers since he was not pursuing a traditional academic effort such as a grant or journal article.  Despite this knowledge, Bernard forged ahead, committed to doing the right thing without expectation of acknowledgement or compensation.  I know that individuals involved in global development are doing the same thing every day.  This is courage.

My challenge to you today is to think about how you are demonstrating courage.  Are you standing up to an entrenched system and doing what is right?  Are you protesting the accepted norms of that system in order to accomplish something that will benefit society?

This difficult challenge is not for everybody.  But I hope that a few will heed the call and stand up for what is right – there are a world of people who are depending on you.

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