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Today marks the anniversary of a seminal event in this country’s history.  The funny thing is, it was never the intention of the individual involved to be part of “an event.”  At the time, she was simply a woman trying to go home after a hard day at work.  But, history will always remember her because she decided in one moment of her life to say “No.”

Her name was Rosa Parks.

I don’t think she was trying to make some grand statement that December evening in Alabama.  I don’t think she saw herself as striking a blow against the segregationist policies that our nation continued to cling to in the 1950’s.  I think that perhaps she was just a common person, like you or me, who had worked hard to put bread on her table all day and just wanted to go home.  But, what that single, seemingly small act of defiance did was help shake the status quo for just long enough to allow people to wake up and have the fire lit in them again.

Freedom, liberty, and equality are some of the most powerful forces in this world.  And it is my belief that these things are the God-given right of every man, woman, and child on this Earth.  They are things that are worth fighting for, worth suffering for, and worth dying for.  I say this because a life lived without these things is a life of servitude to others, and that’s not living.  The defense of these basic concepts is everyone’s responsibility, just as it is our responsibility to ensure that they apply to not only ourselves but also to all of our fellows everywhere.

Sometimes that defense takes the form of taking up arms and waging war against those who seek to destroy such things in the name of greed, power, and corruption.  But, sometimes, and more often than many people realize, those fights are fought when we decide to simply say “no.”  Those tiny little mundane moments that come and go in a heartbeat during which we either stand against oppression or bend to it in supplication.  And, believe me, every time we allow ourselves to bend or principles in the face of injustice we risk breaking them once and for all.

So, I say “thank you,” Rosa Parks, for showing me how a simple act can be as important as a grand gesture.

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