Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ordinary Courage

Our lives are shaped by these moments of truth. Whether is
the chance of loving the right person at the right time, reveal a
piece of truth that will turn the table, or even following the
prompting of the spirit, these events alter the course our destiny
and unleash all sorts of emotions such as joy, regrets, shame,
authenticity, freedom, etc…

My defining moment was a difficult lesson.

Because of my athletic, nerdy, and geeky lifestyle, I was a
Tomboy looking girl with a terrible sense of insecurity in collage.
I had a close group of friends but I longed to fit in. One day, my
cell phone rang. To my surprised, the call was from a classmate
who was also from Hong Kong, a talented student, and a
dashing star on campus. I was so flattered that she would even
know my existence let alone calling me.

Soon her intension was revealed. She would be leaving on a
trip and wanted me to check her presence on the attendance
list. She gave a few pretty good justifications and quickly hung
up. I couldn’t refuse her request becauseI thought I was helping
a friend. I clearly knew it was wrong but instead I traded my
integrity with the chance of being accepted. 

How did it end?
She came back from the trip and of course never spoke a word
to me. 

I felt used. I felt stupid. I felt unoriginal because deep down I
was not comfortable in my own skin. It was very shameful to
even think back how insecure, not confident, and shy I was. But
I’ve learned and grown from it. I’ve vowed to follow my gut and
do the right thing.

In her moral development model, Psychologist/feminist Carol
Gillian proposed 3 stages of female’s moral development.

Stage 1: Pre-conventional: Focus on self-survival 
We tend to focus on individual survival criteria like living condition.

Stage 2: Conventional: responsibility to others, the nurturer role

Stage 3: Post-conventional: decision reflecting the balance of
caring for self and others.

Gillian elaborated that  when teenage girls transition from stage 1 
to stage 2, they struggled to maintain their ordinary courage and
muffled their voices as they were expected to choose
relationship over justice fulfilling the nurturer role.
They likewise experienced tension balancing self and relational 
obligation. Sadly, some people would be stuck in the process 
and the perspective rooted deeply influencing daily decisions.

Another learning opportunity surfaced again this week as I was
asked to do something unethical. To be very honest, I had no
problem dodging the task but the thought of remaining in
silence troubled me. Knowing my action to seek help and stop it
would cause not only disagreement but contention, I acted
upon my moral judgement. 

It has not been easy and I am well aware of the consequence.
The nerd in me keep counting all the possible retaliation and
the Mulan in me wanting to fight injustice and protect the

Tonight when I go to bed, I know I’ll have a clear conscience
knowing I have found my ordinary courage. 

Come what may, and love it!


1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience in high school. A popular girl that I liked more than the other popular girls because she seemed more genuine was running for student government. She came over to me before class started and talked to me. I felt special and valued. Then at the end of the conversation, she asked me to vote for her and then went back to her regular friends. I felt betrayed. Thankfully she didn't ask me to do anything against my values, but I ended up not voting for her in the end. Not that she knew, but it made me feel better.